Note: Please read at least to the second photo; this article isn’t quite what it appears at first.
I Don’t Trust Jews
I can’t vote for Joe Lieberman for President, but I admit it’s hard to pinpoint why.
Maybe it’s because he’s changed his position over the years? No, that’s not it. Truth be told, I’ve changed my position on many issues as I’ve matured, and so has any person who grows. Plus his changes in position, for example over abortion, have been attempts to reflect the views of the constituency he is trying to build, and that seems like something I want my politicians to do (especially given the horrible example of G.W. Bush to ignore his constituencies).
Maybe it’s because his economic policies smack of Republicanism; lower taxes and focus on growing the economy but not as much focus on those who are underrepresented and forgotten by our economic machine? No, that’s not it either. I personally believe a focus on growing the economy is the best way to help the underrepresented.
Maybe it’s his views on foreign policy? I’ll admit his hawkish views on terrorism and Iraq do seem a stretch too far, but truth be told that’s not what’s holding me back.
I guess, now that I think about it, it’s his religion. Joe Lieberman is Jewish.
Now, I’m not prejudiced against any faith, but something creeps me out about Judaism. Sure, millions of good people adhere to it. Sure, there is a focus on family and moral values – two things I admire greatly. And I do have some friends who are Jews or converting to Judaism.
But, you know what I mean, right? There is a shroud of mystery around the faith, and an insular nature to it that makes me suspicious.
Judaism may share a heritage with Catholicism (a faith I’m very familiar with), but they also adhere to a series of scriptures and doctrine that is, at best, odd. Their rules require them to do all sorts of weird things in support of their faith (for example, look at what they are not allowed to eat and drink). Plus there was that issue with polygamy – remember Abraham – although the Faith is now firmly against polygamy.
In reality, I don’t think America is ready for a Jewish president, so I will not vote Joe. End of story.
What the …?
Some of you are probably offended by what I wrote above (and confused, because Joe is not running for President). I know I would be (and was) offended if I heard it.
And plenty of people did say things like that in 2004 when Joe did run, but those people were not in my circle of friends, acquaintances and contacts. I could console myself that the anti-Jewish viewpoint was restricted to the uneducated members of Middle America (and a small number of well-educated bigots). I believe Joe’s Judaism was not what prevented him from getting the Democratic nomination.
Yet in 2008 I hear similar things being said all the time, only this time it is being said by people in my social class, my contacts, my acquaintances, and yes my friends!
To see what I mean, just substitute “Mitt Romney” for “Joe Lieberman”, and “Mormon” for “Judaism” in the rant above.
I’ve heard many people say “I can’t vote for a Mormon”, each time with a shy smile saying, “you know what I mean, right…”
Why is it OK to not vote for someone because they are Mormon but not OK to not vote for someone if they are Jewish, Catholic, Baptist, or Presbyterian (and I’m not even touching on the thoughts of a Muslim presidential candidate)? Isn’t this a country where we are supposed to separate faith from state?
I haven’t decided who I’ll vote for in 2008, and I tend to lean Democratic these days. My decision will be based on policies, past record, and my thoughts on their ability to work effectively with other branches of government.
But it greatly disturbs me to hear Mitt Romney’s electability being dismissed because of his Faith.
We should be better than that.
When people questioned Kennedy’s electability, many of them phrased it in terms of national sovereignty. The thinking was that the Pope is somewhat of a monarch, an heir to the Western part of the Roman Empire. Anyone who follows the Pope will put us under the influence of that old imperial system.
These people didn’t express any concern about his faith, but rather about his religion–specifically, the temporal (i.e., earthly) parts of his religion.
Kennedy made a speech putting those concerns to rest, and history has shown those concerns to be unfounded. But Mr. Romney’s advisors have advised him against giving a similar announcement. So, would he really be free of influence from those above him in the church hierarchy?
Reagan believed in astrology, and that wasn’t much of a problem. A president could worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster for all I care, but I do have some concerns about the people at the top of the Mormon church, and how they tend to treat the people beneath them. The way LDS leaders apply their influence, as I understand it from former members, is not the way I want my government to behave.
I’ll admit that my judgement is clouded by my theological differences with LDS doctrine, and by the way Mormonism highlights the fact that all religion is socially constructed (any new religion still has some of the scaffolding showing, which makes me anxious about my own). I also haven’t heard any complaints from the friends of mine who are still members of the church; undoubtedly, apostates have a distorted view of the system they left, in order to rationalize all the social bonds that they have broken.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I know that politicians tend to be immune to most any influence outside the realm of politics. With very few exceptions, they do what keeps them in power, even if that means violating all of their moral convictions and family traditions. The notion of a religious leader holding a President on a theological leash is ridiculous. But I have more to say on a rational level than just a wink and a nudge: I honestly worry that the social order within the LDS community might be a bad model for our state to follow.
That said, this is a great post. I didn’t figure out what you were doing until I got down to the second photo.
I’m also a little annoyed with what the evangelicals are saying, when NPR stops them on the street to interview them. I’m just as uncomfortable having a president who subscribes to their church’s social order, as I would be with an LDS president.
Well, you certainly caught my attention… An excellent tactic, and a relief to read the second half of your post…
Thanks for the comments Joel and Jocelyn!