A Jewish Republican Walks Into A Bar …

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2018/01/25/a-jewish-republican-walks-into-a-bar/

Trying to explain to the largely non-Jewish Republican world why the majority of American Jews consistently vote Democrat is an exercise in futility, since I have trouble comprehending this unfortunate reality myself.

What goes on in the liberal American Jewish mindset would baffle the psychiatrist, let alone the columnist. Especially given their unrelenting hostility towards President Donald Trump.

The most pro-Israel president in history is moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and yet the majority of American Jews, who didn’t vote for him, still won’t support him.

Go figure.

It’s not only odd, it’s actually a grave embarrassment to the staunch Jewish Trump delegates and staff from the 2016 campaign.

As the Massachusetts and New Hampshire Trump campaign Director for Jewish Outreach, when I was queried by my non-Jewish Republican colleagues on the dilemma of the Jewish infatuation for all things Democrat, my usual response was to try to quickly change the subject, find the silver lining, and resort to … But the Russian Jews and Orthodox are reliable Republicans who always come out in droves to vote our way. They were at the RNC Cleveland, after all. Here, just look at my photos.

Then there are the politically conservative Jews, mostly closeted. Sort of like the gays of yesteryear. They’re the ones who far too often suffer in silence at PTO meetings or on the soccer sidelines as the Hillaryites parade around like peacocks.

Yet there are still other vastly different politically conservative Jews. Those self-assured, defiant, we’re-right-you’re-wrong Republicans, armed with RNC talking points and Trump bumper stickers, who’d wear a Trump jacket in the Chestnut Hill Mall if they had one.

Gee, did I just describe myself?

Nevertheless, the Republican Jewish official/activist is usually met with a combination of pity and pride by other Republicans. Pity, because they know we’re fighting an uphill battle; pride, because, well, we’re presumably bold enough to fight the good fight.

And yet, far too many liberal Jews look upon us with the same curious fascination as one would a monkey up a tree — You’re Republican? You voted for Trump? You worked on the Trump Campaign? And you’re Jewish? Really? Do you hang out with Jared and Ivanka too?

It’s as if we’re such a rare breed that flying together is too big a risk, lest we all go down at once if the plane plummets from the sky.

Nevertheless, being a Republican Jewish campaigner is a tough job, but someone has to try to convince the MOTT’s (Members of The Tribe) of the folly of their liberal ways, or at least represent the saner version of Jews to our Christian brethren in the hinterland.

Years ago Brian Camenker, a national conservative activist in the Boston area, was often queried on Barney Frank by people in fly-over-country. When Frank was a Congressman, he was the quintessential Massachusetts liberal, who, after Ted Kennedy, was universally despised by the not-so-liberal in the heartland. When politely confronted, Camenker would routinely disavow Frank, after which the common folk would express joy and relief to him for having finally met a conservative religious Jewish activist, live and in person.

In Jewish Republican circles these days, Senator Chuck Schumer and Senator Dianne Feinstein have assumed the role of the most lamentable liberal Jewish politicians. But at least we’re not burdened with Nancy Pelosi and Andrew Cuomo. They’re the Italian Republicans’ headache.

It’s a given that Massachusetts was a foregone conclusion in the 2016 campaign. That Hillary was going to win the Bay State was a no-brainer. Better to focus on the Granite State, which was winnable. So we did, shifting whatever personnel and supplies we could to New Hampshire.

Even though Sarah Silverman and Adam Sandler have since migrated from north-of-the-border to Hollywood, there are still a few thousand Jews up there. What better role than to try to get them to come over to The Donald’s side? So I went to work, and leaving aside the Orthodox synagogues that were in our camp anyway, proceeded to call, and call again, and call a third time, every Reform (i.e., liberal) and Conservative (i.e., moderate) synagogue from the Seacoast to the White Mountains. And the response was … no … no way … or maybe — followed by no the next day. Even when I offered to debate a Hillary clone, the answer was still a resounding Nyet.

Aside from a campaign debate at a Stoughton synagogue with my sometime friend (honestly) state Representative Ruth Balser (D-Newton), it was much the same closer to home.

“What, you’re with the Trump Campaign? We don’t host political events.” And so it went.

So my short-lived job at getting out the New Hampshire Jewish vote was replaced by the role of local campaign quartermaster, which meant sending campaign supplies up north that we didn’t need in the Boston area. Like those thirty Trump billboards, the type that you see on highway overpasses, that were dumped on my front lawn one morning. But I digress.

In the end we lost New Hampshire but won the election anyway. And we got nearly a third of Jews to vote for Trump nationwide. (There’s that thinly veiled optimistic spin again.)

Nevertheless, we gotta keep trying. Just because the last Republican that won the Jewish vote was Warren Harding in 1920, doesn’t mean it’s hopeless. Then again, the rest of the Jewish vote that year was split between a Democrat and a real live Socialist named Eugene Debs.

Maybe when Donald Trump announces he’s moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, liberal Jews will tear off their Bernie stickers and start donning Make America Great Again hats. Oh, wait, the president already made that announcement. But maybe, just maybe, due to the holidays and football playoffs word hasn’t reached all the liberal synagogues yet?

Then again, next time around it might be more productive to dispense with the Republican charm act for all those liberal Granite State rabbis, and just rent a big truck.

For that inevitable batch of Trump 2020 billboards.

Tom Mountain was the 2016 Massachusetts/New Hampshire Trump Campaign Director for Jewish Outreach.