This post is more a rumination than any sort of argument. I’m thinking aloud.
Have you noticed every election night during the primary/caucus season, we are told for whom evangelicals voted? More often the demographic is described as “white evangelicals”. When is the last time you heard Chuck Todd say “and the Jewish vote went to …”? Have you ever heard that? I haven’t. And I might not have even noticed it if it weren’t for the fact my favorite candidate is Bernie Sanders, a Brooklyn born Jewish Senator from Vermont.
The lack of any handle on Jewish preferences was not simply my ignorance. It simply isn’t well researched as documented in the Washington Post.
The reasons that Jews as a whole seem not to be enthusiastic Sanders supporters are multifaceted, and difficult to fully ascertain since most national polling does not report which candidates Jews have voted for in the primaries and caucuses, or who they say they will support. – Washington Post
When Sanders is asked about his Judaism in debates it has a feel of “why don’t you wear your faith on your sleeve?” Of course, with other candidates this is never a problem. They wear their religion in full view. Whether it’s Hillary’s references to “God given abilities” or Ted Cruz’s more ostentatious bible thumping, you never doubt these pols are God fearing.
Sanders answers the God question two ways. The two angles are dissected by Charles Krauthammer but Krauthammer allows one of Sanders’ answers to drown out the other.
Krauthammer looks at three perspectives on Jewish self identification. He speaks of practice – the actual religious practice of synagogue attendance and other types of worship. Then he speaks of Tikkun, basically the Jew’s inner liberal, a “do unto others…” ethos for living a decent life. Finally Krauthammer speaks of the H bomb – a visceral association with the Holocaust and its aftermath.
Bernie never talks about practice. By all accounts, he is a nonobservant Jew. So Bernie’s answer on the God/religion question is usually a mixture of Tikkun and the H bomb. But I think Krauthammer gets the mix wrong. He focuses on Bernie’s acknowledgment that much of his family was wiped out in the Holocaust. Krauthammer then uses this to ruminate on the folly of Jews being Holocaust-centric. However this is not Bernie.
Bernie is all about the Tikkun. “When you hurt, I hurt” has been Sanders consistent answer to his spiritual underpinnings. He only brings up the Holocaust to hone in on what many Jews might believe to be uniquely Jewish.
This gets me back to my query. Where are “Jews for Bernie”? Well, I did find a Facebook page with that title but clearly there seems to be no groundswell of support akin to black support for Obama or his new BFF Hillary Clinton.
Or is there? Maybe the lack of support isn’t so clear? How could we know? This brings me back to my original question about demographic tracking. If we do a bit of syntactical dissection, maybe we’ll find the reason why Chuck Todd never discusses the Jewish vote.
- Tracking Jewish voting patterns.
- Tracking Jewish voting.
- Tracking Jewish …
- Tracking Jews
WHOOOOA!!!!! Sounds a bit Hitleresque, doesn’t it? Could it be that Jews are the one minority we don’t track very well because the whole idea subliminally summons notions of Nazi Germany?
Maybe I’m letting my sociological imagination get the best of me but it seems odd to me that in a year of the first potential woman President and the first potential Hispanic President, no one seems remotely interested in the prospect of the first Jewish President.
What do you think? The bar is open.