Sunday, November 09, 2008


I went home to vote Tuesday, being the good citizen that I am, and while I was home, I asked my 12-year-old brother who he would vote for if he could vote. He's not generally particularly interested in politics or current events, so I didn't expect anything profound from him; I was just curious. Without blinking, he responded, "McCain." 

In his Jewish day school, he said, they held a mock election. Obama got 70 votes; McCain got 700.

When I asked him why, his response was pretty much "Israel" without any more explanation.

He went on to add, incredulously, that our 6-year-old brother "voted" for Obama, clearly indicating that he does not care about Israel--and that all my siblings made fun of the 6-year-old would-be Democrat all the way home from school. By the time I spoke to him, my 6-year-old brother had reneged on his Obama support and wouldn't even admit that he had cast that vote in school.

And I was reminded of an e-mail sent out in a frum community that slammed Bush for abandoning Israel in his last State of the Union address. Bush supported a two-state solution there but he--and every other mainstream U.S. politician--has been supporting a two-state solution from the get-go. Surely that does not amount to abandonment of Israel.

The election is over, and I don't really want to discuss politics here. But this is not about which candidate any one person voted for. There were plenty of good reasons to vote for either candidate. I just didn't hear many of those good reasons in the frum community. I didn't hear much discussion or debate about the election in the frum community at all. 

Citizens have a responsibility think for themselves and do their own research. That's what a democracy is all about--having an informed electorate--and what good is your vote if you have no real reason for it, if you haven't even really thought about it? 

Democracy is not about voting the way your rabbi told you to or the way your parents are voting. It is about participating in your government, grappling with the issues, and thinking for yourself.


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