Listen, I’m not a politician. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I am not even a registered party member anymore…changed my registration to “no party” in order to avoid the snooping that the federal government was trying to do, when it demanded that states turn over voter records.
I’m just a Rabbi. A Jewish educator. I vote Jewish. That is to say, I care about a wide range of issues and I look at them with a mindset that says: My Jewish values don’t dictate my vote, but they definitely inform it. Specifically, my Jewish lens includes:
- Personal integrity. Not perfection. Striving for good. Striving for ethical. Striving for moral [includes idea of teshuva, that a person can change and improve]
- Truth [a name of God]
- Peace and its pursuit [Shalom is another name of God]
- Responsibility [Ours is a religion of responsibility, not of rights]
- Consistent values
- Compassion [according to the rabbis, a litmus test of a Jewish person]
- Justice [as in: Justice, Justice you shall pursue]
- Strength [not power. Strength]
- Standing up for minorities [I’m a member of a minority religious group, so I notice] or for those historically disenfranchised
- Partnership with God [or with the Godly, if you prefer] in protecting creation
- Security and safety [“the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them”]
- The security, safety and peace of Israel as the sole Jewish state in the world
So, when it comes to state-wide or national positions that are going to be on the ballot, I’ll be sending off my questionnaire to candidates and publishing those who answer these simple questions:
- What are the five top values that guide you in life and in public service?
- Are you respected by those of the other party/parties?
- How do you “play in the sandbox” with those whose views you disagree strongly?
- Are you respected by those in other branches of government?
- How do you “play in the sandbox’ with those in other branches, especially when they oppose you?
- How will you protect the right to bear arms?
- How will you protect citizens from gun and other violence?
- What do you think of scientific knowledge, such as global warming? Should our country be joining the rest of the world in environmental action? Is coal “clean” as a fuel, in your opinion?
- Do your religious beliefs, or those of religious leaders you honor, promote the idea that Jews (or Moslems, or any other group) will “not be saved” or “are doomed to burn”because they haven’t accepted a particular religion?
- What actions will you pursue to safeguard the security and promote peace in Israel?
- What are the three special interest groups or corporations that contribute the most to your campaign/s?
How about you. What are YOUR questions for those who want your support as they pursue leadership roles?
I know you.
You’re 19 and in college. Or 22 and between jobs. Or 25 and moving back in with your parents for the cost savings. Or 28 and in a job that’s OK, but thinking about moving on. Or 31 and thinking about a long-term committed relationship. Or even 36 with your first child.
Oh, and you were all on board with the Bern because, well, you’re idealistic. Or you were running with Rubio or Cruz because you like traditional values. Perhaps you liked (and maybe still do) one of the third-party candidates. Maybe you were just laughing at the whole circus of the presidential sweepstakes.
Guess what? The primary game is over. And now it gets real. The two candidates who appear to be the ones left standing have figured out that they’re going to be their party’s nominees for president. And there is a real choice here, because these two represent very different visions of what America and the world should look like.
Did you wait to register? Or perhaps you’re still registered at your last address? Or perhaps you haven’t signed up for absentee ballots? Maybe you even heard the (basically false) internet rumor that says that absentee ballots are only counted in a close election. Time to step up, folks.
I’m 60. The next president is unlikely to change the quality of my life or world in a serious way. But s/he IS likely to change the future of the world that you’re increasingly being expected to take leadership responsibilities in. So (and I hate this expression, but…), get over it. Deal with the fact that your idealistic candidate, whoever it may have been, is done. Move beyond your preconceived notion that you somehow aren’t going to make a difference. This time, maybe more than ever, you count. YOU. Yes, you.
Doesn’t much matter where you live, the election this time around is going to be too close to call. And yes, it’s months away. And yes, the major parties haven’t officially nominated their candidates. And yes, a few third parties are still in it, supposedly. And yes, I do still dream that Colin Powell will miraculously decide to lead an American Unity Party and grab all the disheartened voters, rolling to victory. But in the real world, we know where this is all going.
So right now, NOW, so you don’t forget: Register if you haven’t; update your address on your registration; sign up for absentee ballots if you’re not sitting in the state in which you’re registered. Do it today. You know who you are.