First, a stat that may surprise you:
Jews, on the other hand, are drifting toward the GOP. In 2002, the American Jewish Committee estimated that Jews are 2.1 percent of the U.S. population and 3.9 percent of Florida, also a swing state. A poll by Steven Cohen of Hebrew University found that almost half the Jews who chose Gore over Bush are uncertain they would vote the same way today. Perhaps even more crucial, prominent Democratic donors have crossed party lines. Jack Rosen, president of the American Jewish Congress and a supporter of Democrats, wrote a $100,000 check last year to the Republican National Committee. “It would be a mistake for the Jewish community not to show our appreciation to the president,” Rosen said.
Arab Americans, however, are not a major source of campaign funds. Jews provided at least half the money donated to the DNC in the 1998 and 2000 election cycles. At the RNC, Lew Eisenberg, who is Jewish, was finance chairman until he became finance chairman of the host committee for the Republican National Convention recently. At Bush-Cheney fundraisers in Washington, California, New York and Florida, rabbis gave the invocations.
Democratic fundraisers estimate that at least half of the money donated by individuals — but excluding labor unions and political action committees — to the national committees comes from Jewish donors.
According to research by University of Akron political scientist John Green and several colleagues, “Jews accounted for 21 percent of donors to the Democratic presidential primaries in 2000,” or at least $13 million out of $62 million raised by Gore and former senator Bill Bradley (N.J.). By contrast, they said, “Jews made up 2.5 percent of all GOP presidential primary donors and contributed $3.75 million out of $150 millions raised.” Their surveys found similar patterns at the congressional level.
I’d been meaning to blog about this for a while, but David Bernstein reminded me of it. Along the same lines, consider this point and counterpoint on whether Jews should switch to Bush, and this:
Sharpton “reminds a lot of Jewish voters about what they’ve come to dislike about the Democratic Party,” Ginsberg said. “It will sharpen longstanding concerns.” Any success by Sharpton could have an especially significant impact on Jewish campaign contributors, he said.
That will be “a real problem for party leaders. Without Jews there isn’t much of a Democratic Party,” Ginsberg said, “and they’d better start saving their nickels and dimes because they’re not going to get as many Jewish dollars.”
Books like JJ Goldberg’s “Jewish Power” and Ginsberg’s Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State give much more detail, as do studies like Gabler’s and 60 Minutes’ report on Hollywood:
…60 Minutes had studied the top slots in town. Their research showed that “only” about 60 percent of the most important positions in Hollywood were run by Jews. What did I think?
I managed to disqualify myself by saying that while Hollywood was not really “run” by anyone (it’s far too chaotic for that), if Jews were about 2.5 percent of the population and were about 60 percent of Hollywood, they might well be said to be extremely predominant in that sector.
Articles like this, this, and this are all interesting, but perhaps most significant is this calculating piece by Stephen Steinlight, former Director of National Affairs at the American Jewish Committee, which I urge you to read in its entirety. Here’s one of the most eyebrow-raising excerpts:
I am of course simplifying a complex process of ethnic and religious identity formation; there was also a powerful counterbalancing universalistic moral component that inculcated a belief in social justice for all people and a special identification with the struggle for Negro civil rights. And it is no exaggeration to add that in some respects, of course, a substantial subset of secular Jews were historically Europe’s cosmopolitans par excellence, particularly during the high noon of bourgeois culture in Central Europe. That sense of commitment to universalistic values and egalitarian ideals was and remains so strong that in reliable survey research conducted over the years, Jews regularly identify “belief in social justice” as the second most important factor in their Jewish identity; it is trumped only by a “sense of peoplehood.” It also explains the long Jewish involvement in and flirtation with Marxism. But it is fair to say that Jewish universalistic tendencies and tribalism have always existed in an uneasy dialectic. We are at once the most open of peoples and one second to none in intensity of national feeling. Having made this important distinction, it must be admitted that the essence of the process of my nationalist training was to inculcate the belief that the primary division in the world was between “us” and “them.” Of course we also saluted the American and Canadian flags and sang those anthems, usually with real feeling, but it was clear where our primary loyalty was meant to reside.
Ok, so that’s a lot of data. What do I think about it? Well:
First, I think too much paranoia is unwarranted. Modern American Jews are more assimilated than those of Steinlight’s generation, as they are outmarrying at greater than 50% rates. Second, I have little patience for those who’d use the Holocaust as a way to shut down any discussion of Jewish influence. This is because other Holocausts of equal or greater destructiveness have been perpetrated in Russia, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Armenia, Rwanda, and Bangladesh (an incomplete list). If discussion of the influence of the rich hasn’t provoked a Communist Holocaust against intellectuals like it did in Cambodia, discussion of the influence of American Jews is unlikely to produce a Nazi Holocaust. Now, that said – I do believe that an important filter that should be incorporated into an analysis of political events is “Is it good for the Jews?”. This joins a bunch of other pre-existing filters, like “Is it good for the rich” or “What will blacks think of this” or “Will Muslims protest this?”. In other words, it joins the standard filters of race, economics, IQ, etcetera. A word of caution: overapplication of this filter makes one sound like those blacks who complain about “THE MAN”. There is more to this analogy than meets the eye: the 1SD difference in IQ, the massive difference in per-capita wealth & educational achievement, the seeming political/media overrepresentation, etc. But let’s not go overboard here – this filter is not a unifactorial explanation for everything. The major difference between this issue and almost every other “race” charged iss
ue that I can think of is that the distinction between the two groups – gentiles and Jews – is invisible unless you know to look. Black-white conflicts are obvious . But Jew-gentile friction is best compared to (say) Sunni-Shiite or Brahmin-Dalit conflicts, where both groups look the same and their distinctions are invisible to outsiders who haven’t been taught the difference. That’s why you hear that the US software industry is populated by “Indians” rather than “Brahmins“, for example. Americans don’t know the difference – but Indians in India know. Still, even this comparison is inexact. Until the recent post-9/11 attention paid to Jews, Israel, and the Middle East, most Americans were probably like me: unable to discern the difference between (say) Jewish names and gentile names. This is partly because the black vote is analyzed in every election, but the Jewish vote generally didn’t come in for as much public scrutiny. Or – more appropriately – the Christian Right was analyzed, but the Jewish Left was not.
What’s the upshot? Well, I do think that the left is shooting itself in the foot by antagonizing American Jews, and that the natural drift of American Jewry is to the right. There are several issues here:
The Israel-Palestine conflict is obviously a big contributor. It has become a cause celebre among the left. American Jews are increasingly seen as the most wealthy and influential white ethnic group. Unlike (say) Martin Luther King, contemporary Hispanics, blacks, and Muslims make no other distinctions of importance between white gentiles and Jews. This impression is compounded by the high intermarriage rates between Jews and gentiles. The wealth of Jews has meant that anti-Semitism has always lurked as a motivation for the far left, and was in fact historically called the socialism of fools. In combination with the perceived militarism of Israel, Jews are now seen as the embodiment of the rich warmongers among the Indymedia set. Last but certainly not least, the enemies of America today are no longer the Communists (for whom American Jews had disproportionate sympathy for relative to the population at large). No, they are now radical Muslims. While the outliers still exist, very few Jews feel more kinship with radical Muslims than America.
There’s much more on the political move to the right of American Jews in the Forward:
However, younger Jews are far more willing than their elders to identify as Republicans and to approve of President Bush, suggesting that the Democrats’ advantage among Jews will shrink during the coming decades. Republican identification also increases markedly among the growing number of Jews who are in the highest income brackets, something that has not been shown in previous surveys, including my own…
Most striking, almost half the Jews who voted in 2000 for Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore over Republican George W. Bush are uncertain they would make the same choice today. Jews in this sample supported Gore over Bush in 2000 by a margin of 71% to 21%. The survey, conducted when Gore was still considered the Democratic front-runner for 2004, showed just 37% saying they would now vote for Gore, 22% backing Bush and 41% uncertain.
The political impact of that shift is apparent already. While Jews over 65 said they would have voted for Gore over Bush last month by a margin of 40% to 15%, with 46% undecided, Jews under 35 would split their vote evenly at 33% to 33%, with 35% undecided. Indeed, while 48% of Jews over 65 disapprove of Bush’s overall performance as president, with 26% approving, his showing is reversed among Jews under 35, with 46% approving and 31% disapproving.
Overall, Jews disapproved of Bush’s performance, but only by a slight margin — 42% disapprove, against 37% approving — considerably lower than the 60% approval ratings the president enjoys in the population at large, but far from the popular image of Jews as militantly partisan Democrats. That close margin, combined with the sharp drop in overall support for a hypothetical Democratic presidential candidacy as represented by Gore, indicates that the shift to the right is in some respects across the board and not merely age-specific.
Now, these shifts are not numerically huge, but they represent substantial shifts away from the 80-20 or 90-10 Democrat preponderance. As long as Lieberman doesn’t get the nomination (and he won’t) this trend is set to continue as younger Jews intermarry more and older paleoliberal Jews pass away.
The result of this shift is important in its own right. When taken along with the aforementioned massive shifts in Republican voter registration and the ongoing campaigns to take back our universities from the Marxist left (sponsored by right-wing Jews like Horowitz and Pipes), I think it’s safe to say that the left has problems.
There are caveats. Prime among them is the question of Hispanic immigration. Mass Hispanic immigration will increase the number of Democratic votes. However, it is my opinion that this trend is invisibly decelerating. An emerging wave of criticism of mass immigration in the mainstream media is in part due to 9/11 and in part due to the relaxation of Jews on the issue, as described by Steinlight.
In the long run, I think this rightward swing will be good for America. I don’t think we need to swing back to the 1950′s status quo, but I do think that we need to start taking back our schools and teaching our kids positive lessons about capitalism, patriotism, duty, and sacrifice. We need to correct some of the more egregiously h-bd denying policies. That means an end to penalizing cops for good police work (aka “racial profiling”) and a rational, assimilation-friendly immigration policy. And we need to preemptively shore up bedrock institutions like marriage with an ounce of prevention rather than spending hundreds of billions in social services as a pound of cure. I don’t think much progress is needed or necessary on social issues, as I doubt that things like interracial marriage or abortion rights will (or should) be threatened.
PS: With all this in mind, I will probably nevertheless vote for Wes Clark if he gets the nomination, for the simple reason that Clark – unlike Bush – will paradoxically be better positioned to be fiscally conservative because Republicans won’t give him a free pass on idiocies like Bush’s Medicare or Mars bills. Think of the productive relationship between Clinton and Gingrich, and how it led to balanced budgets and general prosperity. Also, I have no qualms abou
t Clark’s patriotism, his willingness to take on the enemies of the US, or his susceptibility to the ultra-ideological neocons like Frum and Perle.
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