Why most US Jews could vote Republican in the 2026 midterm elections

The lavish expansion of welfare schemes hurting upwardly-mobile professionals will bring the bulk of Jewish middle-aged professionals to vote conservative.

Rafael Castro, | updated: 06:19

Rafael Castro
Rafael Castro
INN:RF

American Jewish fealty to the Democratic Party baffles political analysts. Norman Podhoretz tackled the issue in a fascinating book devoted to answering the question of why Jewish Americans embrace liberalism. A splendid Commentary magazine column highlights the take of America’s leading conservative Jewish intellectuals on the matter.

Judaism is an identity. For observant Jews, the study of Torah and the performance of mitzvot are the core of their identity. Non-observant Jews, who have discarded the mitzvot and consider the Torah just a literary masterpiece, need to fill this void. In America, political and social liberalism have served this task.

There are several explanations as to why liberalism has made deep inroads in Jewish hearts and minds. Some are convincing: Jews are neither a Christian nor Caucasian minority and until the 1970s were not welcomed in America’s conservative circles; liberalism promotes the separation of church and state guaranteeing Jews equality; liberalism is the natural heir to the Bundist allegiances of many first-generation immigrants from Eastern Europe.

The thesis that Judaism's social ethics are the key reason American Jews support liberalism is only partially persuasive. It is true that Biblical ethics emphasize society’s responsibility towards the poor, the orphan and the stranger. However it is just as true that the Tanakh is far more sympathetic to wealth and the wealthy than the New Testament. If it were true that the Torah mandates a social-democratic society, one would expect Christian churches in America to advocate generous state welfare more stridently than synagogues. They do not. In fact pastors who support capitalism, limited government and private charity readily cite the Old Testament to justify their stance.

The patriarchs were blessed with material goods and many Biblical kings were fabulously wealthy. The Tanakh and Talmud condition economic welfare on self-help and hard work.  In Biblical times, poverty was a curse that often meant starvation regardless of the poor person’s decisions. In contemporary America, poverty can generally be overcome by hard work and personal responsibility. It is this awareness of different social circumstances that allows Jewish conservatives with a deep religious pathos to vote for fiscally-conservative politicians without feeling dishonest.

A complementary explanation for non-observant Jews’ embrace of progressive ethics is that Reform Judaism compensated the void of discarded mitzvot by privileging the liberal social and economic discourse of Tikkun Olam. This discourse brought Jews from Bundist families back to the synagogue and also provided spiritual nourishment to communities which were increasingly illiterate in religious terms.

These dynamics were strengthened by World War II and the Holocaust. Since Roosevelt was a liberal democrat who defeated the right-wing Nazis, a bond of blood and tears united Jewish Americans and the Democratic Party. Holocaust education reinforced this dynamic by emphasizing how assimilation and integration had not saved Germany’s Jewry – implicitly suggesting that an iteration of the Holocaust remains a possibility in the United States.

The consequences of this education are visible today. President Trump, despite being unquestionably the most pro-Israel and pro-Jewish president in living memory, is reviled as the devil incarnate by many liberal Jews. The presence of an allegedly anti-Semitic Stephen Bannon in the corridors of power, Trump’s ill-chosen remarks on the Charleston March and derogatory words on Mexican illegal immigrants, stoked the specter of the Fourth Reich many American Jews subconsciously fear.

There is no American Fourth Reich in sight and there probably never will be. American Jews are far better integrated and welcome at all levels of American society than German Jews ever were. It is true that German Jews did more to shed their Jewishness than American Jews in order to be accepted by Gentiles. However this Jewish assimilation was not evidence of how successfully integrated German Jews were. On the contrary, it just highlighted the degree to which they were rejected qua Jews by their countrymen!

Nowadays Jews are part and parcel of the American establishment. Every conservative and moderate leader emphasizes the Judeo-Christian values and traditions of America. This homage to Judaism proves that in the 21st century, Jewish Americans are genuine insiders in American society. And yet many American Jews still toy with the concept that Jews are perennial outsiders. The corollary is an embrace of progressive political and
As leftist politicians increasingly infiltrate and rise through the ranks of the Democratic Party, it will become painfully obvious that American Jews who embrace progressive politics are sitting in the wrong pew.
social concerns which are distant from the daily lives of most members of the Jewish community.

As leftist politicians increasingly infiltrate and rise through the ranks of the Democratic Party, it will become painfully obvious that American Jews who embrace progressive politics are sitting in the wrong pew.

One issue that will make this evident is American policy towards Israel. If a progressive administration is elected, Israel may be forced to share its capital with a PLO-state and uproot hundreds of thousands of Jews peacefully residing in Judea and Samaria.

The excruciating pain this will cause to Jews and to Israel will reverberate in Zionist consciences, probably pushing the more elderly 20% of the Jewish community to support Republican candidates. A remaining 20% of the community will embrace Republicanism as soon as they realize that Tikkun Olam discourse sounds sweeter in temple sermons than in Internal Revenue Service tax forms. The lavish expansion of welfare schemes hurting upwardly-mobile professionals will bring the bulk of Jewish middle-aged professionals to the GOP.

Since nowadays around 25% of American Jews vote for Republican candidates, these developments could raise the GOP’s share of the Jewish electorate to 65%. The remaining 35% of Jews that remains loyal to the Democratic Party will consist mostly of academics, government employees and young non-observant voters. These constituencies will benefit from an expanded role for the federal government. Young non-observant Jews will nevertheless decline as a percentage of the Jewish population due to high levels of intermarriage (over 70%) and low birth-rates. This will strengthen Jewish conservatism in the long-run.

Depending on whether President Trump is re-elected or a progressive politician defeats him in the 2020 presidential elections, the Jewish Exodus to the Republican Party could begin in 2020 or 2024. Once this exodus takes place, American Jews will join their brethren in Israel, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Germany in realizing the Jewish values are best served by voting for leaders who promote limited government and who shield Zionism.  

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