My decision to vote for the reelection of President George W. Bush despite the fact that I am a life-long Democrat has caused some to call me a turncoat. But am I really? Or am I moving in a direction the Democratic Party itself should be going?
As mayor of New York City I described myself as ‘a liberal with sanity.’ It troubled me that over the years the Democratic Party had drifted toward the radical left. The vast majority of registered Democrats and those who identify with that party were and are moderates. As mayor and in the years since I left public office I made it my mission to strengthen the Democratic Party by moving it closer to the center.
I supported and admired President Bill Clinton who followed the same course on the national level. For the same reasons I applauded the success of Prime Minister Tony Blair who recreated the Labor Party in Great Britain calling it the ‘New’ Labor Party and getting rid of some of its obsolete socialist programs so that it now appealed to moderates. As a result its majorities became enormous.
During my mayoralty I occasionally endorsed Republicans in the Albany Legislature. I didn’t always agree with many of their positions particularly their opposition to a woman’s right to an abortion. (I am for the rights provided under Roe vs. Wade.) But I believed those individuals had demonstrated a willingness to lend financial support to the City of New York which was then on the edge of bankruptcy.
Over the years I have crossed party lines in mayoral elections because I believed that John Lindsay Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg for whom I campaigned and voted would be far better for the City of New York than the Democratic candidates running against them. Party affiliation is an important consideration but should never be dispositive when casting a vote.
Now for the first time in my life I am going to vote for a Republican candidate for president the incumbent George W. Bush. I voted for Al Gore in 2000. I was one of the few Democratic leaders who supported Gore in the 1988 Democratic presidential primary. That year Michael Dukakis received 45 percent of the primary vote in New York City Gore 7 percent – and Jesse Jackson carried the city with 46 percent. With his endorsement of Howard Dean this year and his strident speeches calling President Bush a liar Gore has certainly demonstrated that he has moved considerably to the left since his defeat.
Why have I endorsed George W. Bush when I don’t agree with him on a single domestic issue? Because I believe the issue of international terrorism trumps all other issues. I don’t believe the Democratic Party has the stomach and commitment to deliver on this issue. I believe terrorism will be with us for many years to come. So long as Senators Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd are considered major leaders of the Democratic Party and so long as we have radical candidates like Howard Dean whose radical-left supporters have been described by the press as ‘Deaniacs ‘ the Democratic Party will be limited in its ability to serve the country well in times of crisis.
Everyone familiar with my political career knows that along with my deep love for and gratitude to the United States and the City of New York for giving me extraordinary opportunities to serve the public I am a Jew proud of my people’s history and accomplishments. Over the years I have expressed my anxieties at the escalating worldwide anti-Semitism that now abounds in Western European countries such as France England Germany Belgium Holland and throughout Eastern Europe including Russia. We haven’t seen the likes of this rising tide of hatred directed at Jews since the 1930’s. So of course I am interested in the views of the two presidential candidates toward Israel and its security.