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December 02, 1988 - Image 82

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-12-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Why The Jews Voted
Against Republicans

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82

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2, 1988

Heart
4, American on
'f,kssociati

WE'RE FIGHTING FOR YOUR LIFE

ews voted overwhelm-
ingly for Michael Du-
kakis. According to a
variety of polls, including the
New York Times/CBS News
polls, about two-thirds of the
Jews who cast ballots voted
for the Democratic presiden-
tial candidate. Why?
Let's look at some of the
other groups. Only one-third
of white Protestants, and less
than half of the Catholics
voted for Dukakis. Blue col-
lar, white collar, college
graduate or high school
dropout, young people, old
people — no matter which
way we look at the votes —
Jews were more likely to vote
for Dukakis than any other
group, except for blacks and
Hispanics.
It is an old pattern. While
Jews are more likely to have
voted Republican in the past
20 years than in the past, the
Democratic hold on Jewish
votes is still strong. Given the
high Jewish income and
educational levels, the
Democratic and Republican
votes should be reversed: two-
thirds of Jews should have
voted Republican.
Why didn't they? Some say
it is because Jews have a
nostalgic loyalty to the
Democratic Party from the
New Deal days, lingering
beyond its time. Some would
argue that Jews do not vote in
their own self-interest. Some
say Jews vote Democratic
because of their concern for
social issues.
I would argue that all of
these explanations are insuf-
ficient. Jews do not vote
Democratic primarily be-
cause they are liberals.
Jews, like other groups, vote
in their own self-interest.
They vote security issues just
like other groups. However,
Jews evaluate security dif-
ferently than other voter
groups. Most Americans vote
their pocketbook. They
evaluate security in terms of
dollars and cents, how the
election will affect them
economically.
Jews vote their security
very differently. They ex-
amine the issue of security in
terms of anti-Semitism and
the separation of church and
state.
Israel, of course, plays a
role, but since all candidates
were seen as supporters of

Gary Tobin is on the faculty
of Brandeis University.

Israel (except Jesse Jackson),
it was not an issue. Anti-
Semitism, security, and the
rights of religious minorities,
however, are issues.
Jewish perceptions of anti-
Semitism affect voting pat-
terns. Jews are very concern-
ed about chruch/state separa-
tion. Any infringement upon
church/state distinctions is
viewed by Jews as the possi-
ble precursor to increased
anti-Semitism.
Jews fear the religious right
for this reason. The agenda of
fundamentalists, the moral
majority,and the new right
presents to Jews a blurring of
politics and religion. Prayer
in the schools, the call for a
Christian nation and other
assaults on the separation of
church and state are viewed
by Jews as the precondition
for unleashing latent anti-
Semitism. Jews do not feel so
secure in the United States
that they view these issues as
trivial.
It is the Republican party
that Jews see too closely
aligned with the religious
right. It makes them wary.
When all is said and done,
Jews are unsure about what
influence the religious right
has on the Republican party,
and how much of its agenda
will be followed in order to ap-
pease these constituencies.
Jews see the Republican par-
ty as more anti-Semitic than
the Democratic party.
And what about Jesse
Jackson's role in the
Democratic party? Jews do
not like him. A recent poll
shows that the vast majority
of Jews believe that Jackson
is anti-Semitic. He is not
trusted on that score.
If it were not for Jackson,
the Dukakis vote would pro-
bably have been higher. But
when punching the card or
pulling the lever, Jews
ultimately feared and dislik-
ed the right even more than
Jesse Jackson.
Jews, of course, are not
single-issue voters nor do they
vote as a ubiquitous bloc.
Higher income Jews as well
as Orthodox Jews are more
likely to vote Republican.
Jews are concerned about a
wide array of domestic and in-
ternational issues.
But, like other Americans,
they ultimately vote security
issues. Unlike other
Americans, however, security
is assessed more on protection
of religious rights than it is
on economic well-being. And
for now, most Jews still con-
sider the Democrats to be the
safer bet.

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