Day 1 (Paul Gottfried): Is it Time for Jews to Vote Republican?

Voting Democrat is one of the defining rituals of American Jewish culture, like shouting over the dinner table or rushing through the seder. The last Republican presidential candidate to get more Jewish votes than his Democratic opponent was Warren Harding … Read More

By / January 2, 2007

Voting Democrat is one of the defining rituals of American Jewish culture, like shouting over the dinner table or rushing through the seder. The last Republican presidential candidate to get more Jewish votes than his Democratic opponent was Warren Harding in 1919—and then only because 38% of Jewish voters went for socialist candidate Eugene Debs. And yet since 9/11 we’ve been treated to a flurry of articles prophesying or pleading for an American Jewish shift to the Right. Could it possibly be time for Jews to vote Republican? That’s this week’s Big Question. It's a question redolent with the betrayal of Jewish-American patrimony, and thus the perfect one with which to kick off our Jewcy "Generation Scrap" series, in which a parent and child try to bring one another to the light on a pressing issue of the day. And for the sheer joy of complicating the generational tensions, we've found a father who wants to tear the Democratic Jewish tradition to shreds and a son who wants to preserve it.

Paul Gottfried is Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College and a firebreathing paleoconservative much admired by the Pat Buchanan crowd. His son Jonathan is a French-speaking Harvard Law graduate who fiercely resists his father’s entreaties to join him on the Dark Red side.

For the next four days, each of them will send us one e-mail per day, as they debate the question: “Is it time for Jews to Vote Republican?”


From: Paul Gottfried To: Jonathan Gottfried Subject: Jewish liberals are still running from the Goyim


Asking me to explain why I think Jews should embrace the Republican Party is like asking Hillary Clinton to write George W. Bush’s campaign speeches. My profound disagreements with the neoconservatives, who are today the intellectual pillars of the Republican Party, are already well known. (The unwillingness of prominent neoconservatives to exchange views with me on Jewcy or anywhere else is enough proof of their hostility toward me.) Beyond this unwelcome neocon influence on the GOP, I really don’t see much difference between the positions of our two national parties. They are both big-government, patronage machines, which represent no threat to administrative overreach, political correctness, or the expansion of American empire.

As a small-government Robert Taft Republican, I feel disgusted by what the onetime party
of limited government has become since Taft’s death in 1953. The GOP not only aids and abets runaway government, like the other party, but even more despicably, it lies about its intention. The Republican Party pretends to be getting “government off our backs” while doing at least as much as the other side to worsen our servile condition. That the Republican National Committee often acts thus because it is “reaching out” to Democrats does not make its lies any more tolerable. Whether you want quotas and set-asides for minorities, laxness in dealing with illegals, or the advocacy of reparations for blacks, you can count on Republicans to serve Democratic causes. Thank heavens that President Clinton decided to phase out welfare! I can't imagine Bush doing anything so courageous, anything that might have so offended black voters.

The Republican leadership’s enthusiastic support for the very liberal Senator Joseph Lieberman in his bid for reelection in Connecticut was exactly what I have come to expect from the GOP. His exuberant Republican devotees forgave every leftist stand he ever took because he voted with the administration on the Middle East. I cannot imagine the principled social leftist Senator Schumer fawning on Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson because they agreed with him on Israeli security.

Having vented my contempt for the Republicans currently in power, I am nonetheless pleased to see Jews joining the party. The Republicans are the party of Americans who do not flaunt minority grievances or protest their ethnic disadvantages. If Republicans trip over their feet trying to be sensitive to ethnic whiners, they do so while thinking of themselves as normal Americans—not as victims.

Most Republicans are white-bread WASPs who have neither anger nor a sense of entitlement in relation to other groups. Most Jewish liberals, however, feel insecure about the goyim—that is, about white, traditional Christians—and for that reason throw in their lot with gays, black activists, and feminists.

In my synagogue, most of the members agreed with a fake newspaper headline that suggested the US government had actively collaborated with Hitler to exterminate European Jewry. One would have to be a low-grade moron or absolutely paranoid to believe that. But those of my friends whom are Jewish professionals and fervent party Democrats have no trouble accepting this nonsense.

None of of my Jewish Republican acquaintances would have believed this spurious report. This is not because my Republican acquaintances are more intelligent, but because they are less inclined to fear gentiles. This may be true for Orthodox Jews as well, who increasingly vote Republican and who do not run around panting over the presence of Evangelical Christians. The Orthodox are trending this way only in part because they believe in Old Testament morality, or its Talmudic formulation. Equally significant is that they do not fear the gentileness of the surrounding society in which they live.


Next: Jewish Democrats are not stuck in the shtetl

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