I rarely if ever write about politicians. Politics always dominates the news because it is at one and the same time very personal and nevertheless very consequential nationally and internationally. But it is a pretty vicious sport, so my pacifist nature overrules my otherwise inquisitive nature. But there is a phenomenon in the American political scene that I feel is worthy of my commenting on it.
There is a United States senator who represents a small state, Vermont. The people of this small state are different in outlook and temperament than most of the rest of America. They regularly elected to the House of Representatives and then to the Senate a Jew born in Brooklyn, a self-described socialist who is an independent who always votes with the Democratic Party.
To me the wonder is that no one comments upon the fact that this senator, who is running for President, is Jewish! And, add to that, he is a person born in World War II, raised as a secular socialist and throughout his political and legislative career has espoused very left-wing socialist views.
He was always regarded as a somewhat benevolent, quirky senator from a small state. Now he is surprisingly a possible – though he is still a very long shot - contender for the presidency of the United States. He is the first Jew in the history of the United States to win a presidential primary election, having crushed Hillary Clinton in the recent New Hampshire primar.
How ironic but tellingly true that the first Jew to get this far in a presidential race is a left-wing socialist with no real identity with the Jewish people and the Jewish faith!
The twentieth century has provided us with ample examples of such Jews who have risen high in politics and government. Leon Blum, Walter Rathenau, Leon Trotsky, Bela Kun, etc. were all Jews who rose to power but whose policies and beliefs eventually led to national and international disaster.
Much of the ideals of the Left are based on Torah values. Fairness to workers, non-exploitation of the defenseless and the lower class, compassion for others and helping the less fortunate are all Torah values. The problem lies not so much in the ideas, as it does in the implementation of those ideas. That is where secular socialism has wrecked societies and literally killed millions of otherwise innocent people.
Bernie is the unrepentant Jewish socialist whom I knew so well in my youth. They were convinced that they were the wave of the future and that the old-fashioned Jew – especially the observant religious Jew – was doomed to extinction. The old-fashioned socialist Jew has morphed into the modern, liberal, assimilationist American Jew. And those are the qualities to which the vast majority of American Jews subscribe.
The triumph of the Left in America is based on its triumph in capturing the hearts, minds, belief and pocketbooks of most of American Jewry. So then why does Bernie Sanders resonate less with American Jews than does his rival, Hillary Clinton?
Part of the reason for this is that Jews distrust other Jews being in power. This is a subconscious but very omnipresent lesson of centuries of exile and anti-Semitism. There are many in the Jewish community who feel that Jews in power inevitably exacerbate the latent anti-Semitism which exists.
In Israel governing is made very difficult simply because Jews have to govern over other Jews. After thousands of years of abject servitude, it is painful to have to make the necessary mindset adjustment to a Jewish government. So, I have little hope that Bernie will make it big with the American Jewish community while Hillary will certainly prove popular, no matter her past, her policies, her personality or any other qualities she may possess.
We are a strange people. When Senator Joseph Lieberman was the nominee of the Democratic Party for Vice-President I remember that many Jews who regularly voted Democratic were very hesitant that year to vote that way. They were deathly afraid of a Jewish Vice-President of the United States of America.
Of course Lieberman was and is a different type of Jew than is Bernie. But to the non-Jewish society, a Jew is a Jew, is a Jew. All of Jewish history testifies to this fact. And this should be of some influence regarding how the American Jewish community should view itself in the general millieu of American society. Meanwhile, Bernie, thanks for the memories and the ride.