Yesterday, we attended an event put on by the Republican Jewish Coalition at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. As Democrats have, historically, been the favored party amongst Jewish voters, a goal of the Republican Jewish Coalition is to reach out and encourage Republican voter participation amongst the Jewish population. The speakers of the night were Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush’s Press Secretary, and Norm Coleman, the former Senator from Minnesota who was narrowly defeated by Al Franken in 2008. It was quite enlightening.
Much of the focus of the evening was a discussion of the relationship between the Obama Administration and Israel. Fleischer was quick to note that Obama has touted his relationship with Israel, and claimed that Israel has received broad military support. However, the military commitment to Israel was a commitment formulated under the Bush Administration. The panel was correct in noting that the relationship with Israel is not a relationship of convenience, rooted in mere military aid. The relationship with Israel needs to be a partnership rooted in ideals, a relationship where both parties have the others’ endgame in mind. Our relationship with Israel should reflect our long allied status, and to the Obama Administration, Israel has become a pesky nuisance with which to deal by offering military aid over friendship.
The evening was enlightening as Norm Coleman related his notable transformation from a liberal Democrat to a Republican in 1996. He explained his evolving stance as a product of increased fiscal understanding. As the country faces hard times and we are forced to confront the long history of economic liberalism in America, Coleman’s story is becoming more and more familiar as leftists are running out of other peoples’ money to spend and realizing the long-term shortcomings of liberal economic policies. Spending other peoples’ money can only last so long, and as liberals defect, we are happy to welcome them to our side.
Most interesting to me was the succinct answer given by Mr. Fleischer to explain the large population of Jewish voters that are Democrats. As I have often wondered this very thing, his answer was definitely intriguing; Fleischer noted that the large Democratic presence within the Jewish population was likely as a result of having been “raised” a Democrat as well as the presence of a pronounced Christian Right in America that can have a firm grip on Republican politics. Mr. Fleischer’s to-the-point response settled a longstanding question of why Jewish voters so readily support a Party that, in my estimation, has been hostile to the plight of Israel in recent decades.
As the evening came to a close, Fleischer and Coleman addressed the issue of social justice. They both noted the differing views between liberals and conservatives as to what adequately defines this concept. Fleischer claimed that Judaism teaches values such as compassion and a commitment to one’s community. While the left may believe that to give a welfare check to someone in need is compassionate, the right often views this as a creation of a government-dependent invalid. Teaching the value of hard work and civic pride while providing opportunities to earn a paycheck is the surest way to promote civic-mindedness. A key component of social justice is compassion, and helping to create self-reliance is a compassionate act noticeably missing from the liberal mindset. Fleischer noted, “It is foolish to take money from one man, give it to another and believe that we made the lives of either man better.”
As the Q&A portion of the evening came to a close, it seemed evident that the Republican Jewish Coalition might have their work cut out for them. But as our country witnesses more and more the downfalls of liberalism, conservative coalitions will play a bigger and bigger role in shaping policy in America.