A former Democratic Jew reflects on our politics of caring and compassion
By Howard Sachs, MD
I’m part of a minority within a minority: a Jewish Republican who volunteers for the Jewish Republican Coalition and Republican Party. I know Jews take pride in being socially conscious and compassionate. However, I also know there is a tension in the American Jewish world over defining these virtues.
Now that the Holiday and election seasons are upon us, moral and intellectual clarity is demanded.
My experience suggests that most Jews today see “caring” through a lens far astray from a Biblical one. It’s called Progressive, Leftist or Liberal.
The minority, including myself and many traditional Orthodox Jews, believe this viewpoint is not the true Jewish or American perspective. We believe conservative Republican values and policies actually express the true definition of caring and compassion, especially on two central topics of this year’s elections: abortion, and the size and role of government.
The typical response I receive from typical liberal Jews is that , “Conservatives are terrible on social issues. They have a war on women. They support government invasion into women’s bodies and elimination of woman’s right to control her reproductive freedom.”
It’s a classic straw-man argument, mixed with distortion and untruth, but it effectively guides Jewish votes to liberal Democrat candidates, election after election, as though abortion were the only social issue and this deliberately narrow interpretation the only valid viewpoint.
The irony is that the conservative philosophy actually holds the most nuanced, just, Jewish and traditional American views on this social justice topic. This philosophy says abortion cannot be merely some binary pronouncement on a “right to choose or not.” The issue is far more complex, involving life and death, the nature of our moral compass. It is deeply connected to our traditional Biblical and American belief that all people are created in the image of God. It demands a profound consideration of the developing human.
Most fundamentally, it is not simply a woman’s “right” to decide to eradicate a developing human baby – especially if it is merely for convenience. Society, our moral character, potential adopting parents, the child’s father, grandparents, sisters and brothers, all have claims and interests that must be carefully regarded.
The Liberal turns the mother alone into the final arbiter, the philosopher, policeman, lawyer, judge, jury and death administrator regarding this human life. The Liberal approach is also illogical, producing a viewpoint that at one moment a human inside a woman’s uterus has only the worth of a tooth abscess to be shed, often at whim; but a moment later, outside the uterus, that same life is of infinite God-level worth.
But that is where the argument tends to end with the Jewish Democrat. The conservative is seen as regressive on abortion, and abortion is by definition “social issues.” That is incorrect.
The size and scope of government, and its proper role in our lives and economic system are likewise vital to our society – central “social issues.” Abortion affects each of us rarely, while these other social issues profoundly impact our daily lives.
The great philosopher and current Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, Jonathan Sacks, has described the Bible as a treatise on the value of the individual over the power of the state. Liberty is key. Liberty is what separates us Republicans from Democrats. Liberty is a reflection of the tremendous value God places on the individual. Indeed, liberty, limited government with enumerated powers, individual freedom, personal responsibility, and acceptance of the consequences of one’s own decisions are at the heart of the Jewish Bible and our American founding documents.
The notion that the state should have vast, virtually unlimited powers over our lives and livelihoods is antithetical to those documents – especially where the state accepts little or no responsibility or accountability for the consequences of its actions.
Where then, fellow Jews, do you find the basic Jewish and American love of liberty and individual freedom in the current big-D Democratic value system and party platform espoused by Mr. Obama, Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Reid? Do you find it in the 2,700 pages of Obamacare, or the tens of thousands of pages of Medicare regulations, controlling every nook and cranny of our healthcare system and our bodies including womens’ uteruses?
Is it in government’s purported right to take almost half of every dollar we earn, to redistribute our money to whomever politicians deem worthy of “social justice” dispensation and build a Leviathan-a Government now employing millions to regulate every facet of our lives? Is this what our founders and our Constitution envisioned? Is this what elevates us, enriches us and makes us Americans?
Have Liberals reflected on how the Democrats are engaged in a very real War on Our Children, by constantly expanding the size, intrusiveness and cost of government – and charging it to future generations, through the countless billions borrowed from Chinese tyrants and America-hating sheiks? What about the nearly thousand million dollars a day that we send to Washington, to pay only the interest on the ever-expanding, society-crushing national debt?
Is this what a Jew or American calls “social justice” and “compassion”? Is this how a Jew or American would run his own home?
Or help the poor? For what? For the ever expanding entitlement state crushing our wealth, spirit and souls?
It is an anti-social-justice policy and value system steeped in the destructive policies of “Progressives.”
Isn’t this possibly part of the robust, full-throated “social issues” debate we should be having? I think so.
That is why this Jew thinks the Democrats have abandoned the good road – to travel, instead, down a path that is foreign to the kind, compassionate and wise traditions of Judaism and this exceptional American experiment.
That is why this Jew, and thousands like me, strongly support Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and other candidates who would again guide this great nation according to the dreams of our fathers.
Howard Sachs is a senior physician in private medical practice in Washington, DC. He is formerly a Jewish Democrat, but is now a passionate member of the Republican Party, Republican Jewish Coalition and docs4patientcare.
The views expressed are the author’s own