Commentary Magazine


Topic: Mia Love

The Midterms, the Jewish Vote, and Liberalism’s Price of Admission

In the wake of the Republican victory in the 2014 midterms, the left aimed some of its most spiteful rhetoric at the women and minorities elevated into office in the GOP wave. Perhaps the most cringe-inducing display of delegitimization belonged to the author Darron T. Smith, who wrote in the Huffington Post that Utah Republican Mia Love “might look black, but her politics are red.” Yet strangely enough, the best way to understand liberal anger at Republican African-Americans and women is through this Atlantic piece analyzing the Jewish vote in the midterm elections.

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In the wake of the Republican victory in the 2014 midterms, the left aimed some of its most spiteful rhetoric at the women and minorities elevated into office in the GOP wave. Perhaps the most cringe-inducing display of delegitimization belonged to the author Darron T. Smith, who wrote in the Huffington Post that Utah Republican Mia Love “might look black, but her politics are red.” Yet strangely enough, the best way to understand liberal anger at Republican African-Americans and women is through this Atlantic piece analyzing the Jewish vote in the midterm elections.

In “Are Democrats Losing the Jews?” Emma Green attempts to understand why Democrats’ share of the Jewish vote decreased and what that means both for American Jews and the Democratic Party going forward. The unfortunate aspect to Green’s story is that she has the facts in front of her, so her conclusion is the result of ignoring, not utilizing, the information at her disposal. Though at various points in the article she seems to begin to understand the issue, in the end she concludes with a statement that sets a new standard for being wrong about the Jewish vote.

Green notes that although Democrats usually enjoy an overwhelming majority of the Jewish vote, at times truly terrible presidents cost their party a notable swath of those votes. Jimmy Carter, for example, only received 45 percent of the Jewish vote in 1980. Seen in that light, it’s not terribly surprising that although President Obama’s name wasn’t on the ballot in the midterms, his relentless attacks on Israel’s government and his downgrading of the U.S.-Israel military alliance while Israel was at war were bound to cost Democrats some of the Jewish vote.

Green then digs into last year’s Pew report on Jewish identity and assimilation. She attempts to draw some conclusions:

But these statistics do provide some context for what’s happening among Jewish voters. In 2006, 87 percent of Jews voted for Democratic candidates for the House, as did 50 percent of white Catholics and 37 percent of white Protestants—a 37- and 50-percentage point difference, respectively. In 2014, those gaps narrowed: There was only a 12-point difference between Jews and white Catholics, and a 40-point difference between Jews and white Protestants. Those are still big differences, obviously, but the conclusion is there: Jews are voting more like white people.

Put aside the “Jews are voting more like white people” remark: it’s clumsy and obviously silly, but we know what Green was trying to say. She then says that Republicans aren’t necessarily going to start winning the Jewish vote. “But,” she concludes, “it may be that, as a people as much as a voting bloc, Jews are becoming less influenced by their Jewishness.”

And here we have the liberal mindset perfectly distilled. Just like Darron Smith thinks blacks who don’t vote for Democrats are in some way voting against their “blackness,” and Ann Friedman can write that Republican women aren’t “truly pro-woman,” the idea undergirding Green’s conclusion is that liberalism is political Judaism. Of course that’s insulting to those who take their Jewish faith seriously, and it’s certainly a creepy parallel to the “price of admission” ideology of leftism going back to the French Revolution. But it’s also, crucially, wrong.

There has been no major swing of the Jewish vote away from Democrats, and there likely won’t be. But incremental gains by the GOP are not evidence of Jews being less Jewish; they’re exactly the opposite. Although the Orthodox are far from being anywhere close to a majority of American Jews–and will remain far from it for quite some time, even if current trends hold–they are still increasing their share of American Jews. As the numbers have increased, so has their political activism. And they are much more likely to care not only about Israel but about issues like school choice and economic liberty, to say nothing of religious liberty. (Pew found that “57% of Orthodox Jews describe themselves as Republicans or say they lean toward the Republican Party.”)

The Orthodox Union took some heat from other corners of the Jewish world for supporting the Catholic-driven attempts to allow religious exemptions from the Obama administration’s contraception mandate. The OU’s Nathan Diament explained that the organization did so not because it opposes birth control but because “we, particularly as a religious minority in the United States, must stand in solidarity with people of all faiths in demanding the broadest protections for rights of conscience in the face of government (and socio-cultural) coercion to the contrary.”

It’s no surprise that as the share of observant Jews increases, those Jews will be less likely to support a Democratic Party that is increasingly hostile to religious freedom and faith more generally, and instead support a Republican Party that seeks to protect religious practice from the authoritarian instincts of statist liberalism. Green could not be more wrong, in other words, about Jewish identity and voting trends. But her analysis was just one more example that modern liberalism requires its adherents to sacrifice all other aspects of their identity for The Cause. If minorities must choose between their community and leftist doctrine, it’s encouraging that many of them choose the former.

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Rising Political Stars: Love and Valenzuela

One of the purposes of conventions is to highlight impressive political talent displayed by state-level officials who may rise to the top in years to come—the ur-example of this being, of course, State Senator Barack Obama, whose 2004 speech at the Democratic convention was even more important to his eventual election in 2008 than his Senate victory later that year. Tonight, the Republican party unveiled two potent new personalities, Mia Love and Sher Valenzuela. Love, who is 36 years old and the child of Haitian immigrants, is the mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah and a candidate for Congress. Valenzuela is the owner of a small business running for lieutenant governor of Delaware.

Love’s talk was an upbeat tribute to the United States, lively and biting and cheerful. Valenzuela’s was without question the first really dynamic speech of the convention—combining a story about starting her business with her husband to find the funds to pay for the education of their autistic child (now a college student) and then connecting that experience with the regulatory nightmare that besets those who want to start and maintain businesses. Delaware is an odd state for Republicans, but if Valenzuela can win her office and find a way to rise higher, she is exactly what the Republican party will need over the coming decades—an intelligent, well-spoken, resourceful politician who can speak with particular clarity to Hispanics and women.

One of the purposes of conventions is to highlight impressive political talent displayed by state-level officials who may rise to the top in years to come—the ur-example of this being, of course, State Senator Barack Obama, whose 2004 speech at the Democratic convention was even more important to his eventual election in 2008 than his Senate victory later that year. Tonight, the Republican party unveiled two potent new personalities, Mia Love and Sher Valenzuela. Love, who is 36 years old and the child of Haitian immigrants, is the mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah and a candidate for Congress. Valenzuela is the owner of a small business running for lieutenant governor of Delaware.

Love’s talk was an upbeat tribute to the United States, lively and biting and cheerful. Valenzuela’s was without question the first really dynamic speech of the convention—combining a story about starting her business with her husband to find the funds to pay for the education of their autistic child (now a college student) and then connecting that experience with the regulatory nightmare that besets those who want to start and maintain businesses. Delaware is an odd state for Republicans, but if Valenzuela can win her office and find a way to rise higher, she is exactly what the Republican party will need over the coming decades—an intelligent, well-spoken, resourceful politician who can speak with particular clarity to Hispanics and women.

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