e have just
been through the dirtiest, most acrimonious presidential campaign that I can
remember, the acrimony has not stopped on either side, and my mood is
Like most American Jews since the
Great Depression, my sympathies have been aligned with those of the Democratic
I say “have been” because the
party is listing so far to port that it is in danger of capsizing. One of my
first political memories was visiting my maternal grandfather ע''ה
, who actually lived and raised two daughters through the Great
Depression, mentioning or perhaps hearing somebody else mention President
Eisenhower, and hearing my grandfather say in substance: A Republican – yuk.
I reached voting age in 1970, with the
passage of the 26th
Amendment to the Constitution, which lowered the
voting age from 21 to 18 nationwide.
did not wait, but went to the Brooklyn office of the Board of Elections to
register as soon as possible, before the Orthodox establishment got on the
bandwagon and instructed all of us to register and vote, because if we did not
then our concerns would not count.
would have registered even if the gedolim
had told us not to; it is my
sacred obligation as an American and many good Americans died so that we could
choose those who would govern us.
course, I registered as a Democrat and remain so registered.
Where I live the Democratic nomination is
usually tantamount to election, and I wanted my vote to mean something.
The first Presidential election in which I
voted was in 1972, Richard Nixon was seeking a second term against Democrat
George McGovern with the war in Vietnam still raging.
As a student at Columbia I was safe from the
draft with a 2S deferment, in what turned out to be the last age cohort where
2S (undergraduate student) deferments were given, and I dutifully completed the
paperwork to renew the deferment each year.
I voted for Nixon, the Republican, feeling that his Democratic
challenger would sell small allies like Israel down the river, and that his
domestic ideas were too far left to work.
Answering a pollster at Columbia that I voted for Richard Nixon took
some political courage, but that was okay.
season leading up to last summer’s nominating conventions and last November’s
general election was a disaster.
Republican side went pretty much as I expected, the Republicans having been the
“party of stupid” for quite a while.
Anybody they nominate could be counted on to be a science denier and/or
presidency is inevitably bad news for science (especially biology) teachers, as
well as knowledgeable citizens concerned about climate change and members of
religious minorities staunchly defending separation of church and state.
This time, however, a businessman with no
experience in elective office threw his hat into the ring and proceeded to
double down on what has become typical Republican buffoonery.
Donald Trump. From the beginning he made no secret of his racism and
His utterances about
Mexicans and disabled people in particular were what few citizens in this day
and age, and certainly no candidate for our highest office, would dare to say
in polite company.
This wouldn’t bother
me, I being quite politically incorrect myself, if his statements were true,
but that was far from the case.
repeated age-old canards and it was clear that he believed them to be
People hearing him were mostly
confident that he would have no chance at the nomination, but they failed to
reckon with Americans’ (myself included) frustration with a long running war
seemingly going nowhere, with terrorist attacks occurring with disturbing
frequency, with increasing racial tensions and police violence, and so
Americans, except for those in
the liberal bastions in the Northeast and California, were fed up and wanted
They got more than they
As for the
Democrats, they have quite a few men who would have made good Presidents, but
they were all afraid to challenge Hillary Clinton, as if she was already a
sitting President from their own party.
The only man to run against her was Bernie Sanders, a Jew who grew up in
Brooklyn, but an avowed socialist not to be trusted.
He gave Ms. Clinton a better fight than most
of us expected, but in the end he lost the nomination to the former President’s
She was widely regarded in middle
America as the ultimate insider, too invested in the status quo to make the
changes they deemed necessary.
victory would be tantamount to a third term for Obama, of whom we were not
This image was not helped by a
scandal involving emails from her tenure as President Obama’s Secretary of
State having been stored on her private server where they were vulnerable to
I, male chauvinist that I am,
was not about to support any woman in time of war short of Golda Meir or
So now the major
parties served up two lousy candidates and we were expected to choose the
Had I lived in a
“battleground state” that could go either way, I would have swallowed hard,
held my nose and voted for Trump, who at least advocated a tougher posture
toward our foreign enemies.
But I live
in New York, and it was a foregone conclusion that New York would be carried by
I therefore cast a
write-in protest vote for John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, peace be upon
Shades of Dewey vs
Truman in 1948.
All the polls predicted
a victory for Clinton, who narrowly won the popular vote. However, due to the
peculiar method prescribed by the Constitution for electing the President,
Trump narrowly won enough states to give him a comfortable majority in the
some childish political maneuvering aimed at getting enough electors to betray
their trust and deny Trump the election, Trump was elected and duly sworn in on
It has been a frenetic month
and, for me, a sad one.
True to his
campaign pledges, he appears to be doing an about face in our Middle East
His appointees for secretary of
state and ambassador to Israel are friendly to Israel and see it as America’s
only strong and reliable ally in a very rough neighborhood.
He is likely to pay lip service to the
“two-state solution,” actually a three-state solution since the “Palestinians”
already have a state called Jordan that sits on 80% of Mandatory Palestine and
has a “Palestinian” majority.
indications are that he will stand down as Israel’s popular right-wing
government creates facts on the ground that will make large land giveaways in
Judea and Samaria impossible.
He has a
much warmer personal relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu than
President Obama ever did.
But that is
where the optimism and satisfaction end.
The rest of his
acts in office betray his utter lack of experience in government.
He promised in his campaign that he would
“make America safe again.”
With crime at
an all-time low, one can only assume he meant safe from terrorists.
He wasted no time imposing, by executive
order, a 90-day moratorium on immigration and acceptance of refugees from
Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Yemen.
These are all countries that are known either
to be state sponsors of terrorism or to export terrorists abroad, or not to
have functioning governments that can provide information on prospective
immigrants and refugees.
was supposed to give the government time to map out the “extreme vetting” that
the new President wants put in place to keep out evildoers while letting in
legitimate immigrants and refugees.
There is no question in my mind that the President meant well but, as
the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
The President and his advisors used a
meat-axe when a scalpel would have been more appropriate.
His order included holders of “green cards”
authorizing permanent residence in the country, as well as holders of valid
It resulted in chaos at always-busy
airports like JFK in New York and LAX in Los Angeles.
Volunteer lawyers and others hastily made
their way to the airports to assist those people who now found themselves in
Later on, watchdog groups
obtained court orders putting the Presidents order on hold; Trump plans to
appeal and to pursue other avenues, like using the proverbial scalpel to carve
out another order more likely to pass muster.
We know there will be terrorists embedded with the refugees; ISIS says
We also let in, a century ago,
tens of thousands of Italian immigrants knowing that we were also importing the
The difference is that
Mafiosi usually kill one another, one at a time, for motives that are entirely
The Muslim terrorists that
we’re fighting go in for mass casualty attacks and their aim is to bring down
the American government and impose their own tyrannical brand of Islam on all
of us; not even the Muslim immigrants that were here for years pursuing the
American dream have any use for them.
have to vet these people in their home countries before they get here.
If they’re coming with families or if they
are single older men they are probably legit.
Single men of fighting age are more likely to be terrorists and should
be turned away.
Those likely to face
religious persecution up to and including murder (i.e. Christians and Yazidis)
are most unlikely to be terrorists.
would-be immigrants and refugees might have to be quarantined on Ellis Island
or elsewhere pending further investigation, as was done at the turn of the 20th
Those that are let in should be
let in slowly, so that the communities in which they settle will have time to
absorb them and they will have time to adjust to our culture.
The media in
describing the President’s order and the way it was going to be carried out
before the courts intervened were most unhelpful.
They kept writing and speaking about a
“Muslim ban,” when it was neither Muslim nor a ban (Remember the Holy Roman
Empire which was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire?).
The President wanted a temporary breathing
space so he could figure out how to admit legitimate immigrants and refugees
while keeping us safe from terrorists; by calling it a ban the media implied
that it was permanent.
In reality the
President sought an indefinite ban only in the case of Syria.
The media also characterized the affected
countries as “Muslim majority countries,” as though that was the President’s
reason for imposing a moratorium.
media weren’t lying, but were not telling us the whole truth either.
There are over 20 Muslim-majority countries
on earth; the moratorium covered only seven.
Turkey and Indonesia, for example, are overwhelmingly Muslim but they
were not included in the 90-day freeze.
They do not sponsor
terrorism or export terrorists, and they have stable governments with which we
can do business.
The media will not
allow for the possibility that the President might be telling the truth and
should be given a chance, having been chosen by the American people in a
Who elected the
pundits that are pooh-poohing him at every turn?
President is giving us cause for concern in other areas too.
Like Reagan before him, his approach to
filling his cabinet is to have a lot of foxes guarding a lot of henhouses.
His attorney general gives the impression
that he intends to ride roughshod over the Constitution, his chief strategist
keeps company with white supremacists, his Secretary of Education wants to
divert resources from public schools to private, including charter,
His chairman of the
Environmental Protection Agency wants to gut the law authorizing that very
agency, his Secretary of Energy wants to double down on coal and oil
production, environment be damned, and so forth and so on.
To top it all off, President Trump is a
raving science denier.
In what has
become typical Republican pig-headedness, he insists that climate change is a
hoax and to hell with all the evidence.
He cannot be expected to advocate in international circles for policies
that might keep the planet capable of supporting billions of human beings,
policies that must be global to be effective.
Last but not
least, when the next anti-evolution bill is passed and is challenged in court,
we scientists and science educators will not be able to rely on the White
House, the Department of Education or the Department of Justice to have our
As a community and as individual
teachers we will have to grow “stones” and take risks to be faithful to our
obligations as professionals.
I wrote to
a Facebook friend at the beginning of the Trump administration that the
President’s first 100 days will be a time of watchful waiting.
Developments since then make me change that
to “dark foreboding.”
I hope I am wrong,
but hope alone will not suffice.
parties have gone to the extremes and show no signs of slowing down, let alone
going back, we are in desperate need of a third party.
This party will be unabashedly pragmatic and
centrist, faithful to the Constitution and to the traditions that have made
this country great.
It will provide a
home to Rockefeller-Javits Republicans as well as Kennedy-Johnson Democrats,
neither of whom are welcome in their own parties.
Since it will pitch a big tent, there will be
vigorous debate but that debate will be civil, free from the name-calling and ad
attacks that have characterized American political discourse of
late. The role of third parties in American politics traditionally was to be a
gadfly, putting the major parties back on track when they got derailed, as is
the case now.
If it succeeds, well and
If not, it should displace one of
the major parties, preferably the Republicans.
Otherwise I see little hope for the world my grandchildren will grow up
in, and we will have betrayed our obligation to leave our children a world in
better shape than it was before we came on the scene.
Labels: America, courage, evolution, gedolim, global warming, Israel, Kennedy, political correctness, racism, science, terrorism