Never Trumpers, Conservatives who would rather have anyone running the country – even the strong progressive wing of the party led by the likes of AOC – other than President Trump, are primarily longtime Conservative pundits. Some are has-beens, who are pining after their glory days. Some are rigid baalei shitah who cannot tolerate veering from the script with which they define Conservatism. President Trump is a person not bound to ideology, but rather to pragmatism. He is also a tremendous disrupter of the old order. That irks them to no end.
In addition, the president can be uncouth, abrasive, self-contradictory, and untruthful. He is rude on Twitter. Those things really bother the elegant souls of these classic Conservatives and is so repulsive to them to the point that they are willing to vote for anyone except for him – even if it means bringing AOC and the Bernie Sanders wing of the party into the mainstream.
Now, there is a similar phenomenon in the frum world. Although they are a small minority, the frum world has their wing of vocal Never Trumpers who, believe it or not, try to cloak their enmity for the president in nothing less than Torah values.
Before I address what I think is the cardinal, dangerous mistake that they are making, especially when they try to encourage others to think like them, let me make an admission. I did not vote for President Trump in the last election. No, I didn’t chas v’shalom vote for Mrs. Clinton. She and what she stands for were and are so repugnant that I could never pull the lever for her even if I had a clothespin on my nose.
I submitted a write-in vote for a conservative who I felt more represented my values than Mr. Trump. I felt that Trump wasn’t a role model, that his personal life and middos were things that I simply couldn’t vote for.
I still don’t think he is a role model, and I still don’t think that the way he conducts himself in his personal life is something I want to emulate or want anyone in my community to emulate. That said, this time, I will pull the lever for him in a heartbeat, and I think, with four years of hindsight behind us, the most charitable thing I can say about any frum Jew who doesn’t is that he is a fool.
Why did I change? I got a better understanding of what today’s Democrat Party stands for, and I realized that despite the president’s problematic bedside manners, most of his policies are far better for the future of frum life in this country and for the preservation of the lives of Jews in Eretz Yisroel and elsewhere.
When I speak to or see the writings of frum Never Trumpers, I am flabbergasted by their lack of understanding or the willful blind eye that they show to the current political climate in which we reside.
The truth, after all the hyperbole, is that I think we can summarize the bottom line of their arguments as follows:
1) The president is the antithesis of a role model for Torah values, middos tovos and the like ,and he should not be idolized under any circumstance.
2) It is never good for Yidden in golus to identify with one particular political party or camp. We need the goodwill of both parties.
Let us address the first point. I would be surprised if there is even one person with a modicum of seichel who thinks that the president’s personal life or the insulting way that he tweets or talks is anything to emulate. The fact that Never Trumpers use that argument speaks more for their elitism and their low approval of the Jewish masses. It would appear that they deem the great, “unwashed,” frum masses insufficiently enlightened to be able to make the distinction between the man and his polices. Also, for some reason, they seem to always focus on the president as the one responsible for bringing down the level of discourse in the country rather than the crazed, venomous and hate-filled reaction to him and his policies.
The second argument presented by the frum Never Trumpers has more merit than the first. Indeed, it is never good for Jews to be in one political camp. Certainly not Orthodox Jews. In golus, we need the goodwill of both political parties. The pendulum of politics swings, and when the Democrats are in power, and they perceive that most Orthodox Jews support the other party, we will lose influence.
That is a very valid point.
The only thing they forgot is that we already lost their support. Big time. Or perhaps, as the current occupant of the White House would say, “Bigly.”
Of “Truths” and Squeamishness
Sometimes, I wonder what it will take to get these high-browed purveyors of “truth” to recognize what is happening. Are they waiting for the “woke” culture to come and shut down our shuls and yeshivos because they are discriminatory and just plain “phobic” about everything? Do they not realize that today’s Democrat Party is one that is in many ways hostile to religion or at best very unsympathetic to religion, especially when it clashes with the “religion” of Progressivism?
Does the squeamishness of the frum Never Trumpers regarding the bedside manners of the current occupant of the White House cause them to sacrifice the real Jewish values of our religion, our ability to practice and teach Yiddishkeit in our schools, and daven in our shuls without significant government interference?
Does their squeamishness cause them to join the Peter Beinart wing of the party that will not be satisfied until the occupants of the Jewish state commit willful suicide by just letting the bloodthirsty Palestinians and their enablers to finally realize their dreams of pushing the Jews into the sea?
Just think for a second what kind of limitations President Obama put on the Jewish state and their ability to respond to provocations from Iran and other evil actors in the rough neighborhood of the Middle East and beyond. Just think about what President Obama did to the Jewish state in the UN before he left office. It must be said that Obama’s shitos back when he was president look tame compared to the Democrat Party of today.
Is the blood of our brothers and sisters really that cheap that frum Never Trumpers seem to be willing to sacrifice real policy changes for the better because this politician talks more abrasively than the other?
While we are at it, do the Never Trumpers think that letting the intelligence agencies conduct themselves in the vaunted tradition of the Bolsheviks by subverting the will of the voting public to conform with their ideals is good for the country? I think there is enough evidence out there even for the skeptics to realize that there were some very dirty, underhanded tricks going on in the various attempts to get rid of Trump. Even House Majority Leader Charles Schumer, in an unguarded moment, admitted so when he said that Donald Trump is being “really dumb” for picking a fight with intelligence officials. Why? “Let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”
Obligation of Appreciation
One last thing: What about hakoras hatov? Is that not also a Jewish value? The current occupant of the White House has done several things for us that no one has done.
He has let the Israelis take care of the Syrians and the Iranians. He threw out the Iran nuclear deal and has been truly committed to stopping Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb, thus neutralizing an existential threat to the Jewish state. These actions have and will potentially save Jewish lives. He has also withdrawn the United States from the UN Human Rights Commission and UNESCO for their vicious anti-Israel bias, he’s made sure that the U.S. vetoed every anti-Israel resolution brought at the United Nations, and he’s unequivocally supported Israel’s right to defend itself.
He’s openly called out the Palestinians for their propaganda that every problem in the Middle East is due to the “occupation.”
All of these are things that no previous occupant of the White House has done or will be able to do.
What about his commuting of Reb Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin’s sentence? The president had nothing to gain politically from that. Nothing at all. Then again, I recall some in our community, even some with influence, being squeamish about supporting Rubashkin. After all, it wasn’t in style to support someone who the vaunted New York Times named an animal rights transgressor and an abuser of illegal immigrants, both patently false charges.
A Flawed Candidate Who is Good for the Jews
During the Holocaust, Rav Aharon Kotler said that he would prostrate himself in front of the Pope if it could save Jewish lives. The Pope at the time, Pius XII, was a repugnant man whose refusal to condemn the Nazi slaughter of Jews gave the Church’s tacit approval to their actions.
Voting for and supporting even a flawed candidate whose policies much more represents our values, especially when large swaths and the most passionate, influential wing of the Democratic Party is the opposite, is a no-brainer. I wonder why some of our smart Never Trumpers don’t have the brains to figure that out.