A number of years ago I
met an elderly friend at the polls, who told me quite proudly, “In all my
years of voting - and there were many - I only voted for the Democratic
I was shocked
at this revelation so I questioned her, “What happened if the Democratic
candidate was not a good person, what did you do then? Vote anyway?”
“Sometimes I voted Democratic anyway and sometimes I abstained, but I
never voted Republican.”
To me it seems strange
that this woman never found a good Republican to vote for. In a country
where there are many political parties with so much diversity within the
parties, why would someone allow partisan politics to camouflage the real
issues that should be dealt with at the voting booth?
A recent news article
brought the partisan politics issue home again. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino,
a Democrat, and NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Republican, would like to team
up to try and end gun violence in major cities. The two mayors would serve
as co-chairmen of a bipartisan national campaign aimed at ending gun crimes
in the streets - particularly among the younger crowd.
Both these Mayors must be commended. It
isn’t very often that politicians cross lines to take care of problems -
even pressing ones like violent crime. Somehow many politicians define
problems only one way - the way their party does. Imagine politicians from
two different cities and rival political parties putting aside their
political alliances and working on an important issue together! These two
politicians, concerned about the violent crime of their cities joined
together to do something about it.
An example of partisan
politics at its worst was the vote for recently nominated Supreme
Court Judge Samuel Alito. The votes for and against Alito receiving
nomination went almost straight down party lines with the Republicans voting
for their nominee and the Democrats against him.
Congress’s vote on
supreme court nominees is about advise-and-consent. The vote is whether the
particular candidate is qualified to assume the position and should have
nothing to do with partisan politics or party platform, yet the nomination
process has turned into a side show of political allegiance.
Could it be
that Democrats are not capable of seeing that Judge Alito is a fair and
thinking man who would make wise decisions? Could it be that Republicans
can’t entertain the possibility that Justice Alito is an unwise man who
would wreck the country with his obtuse judgment?
Voting on issues
by politicians would make sense if they looked at the issues at hand when
voting instead of sticking to a partisan vote. When voting for supreme court
justices the politicians should look at the person, look at their record,
look past the party at the real issues and then make a choice.
Politicians would do
well to look to Mayors Bloomberg and Menino and see that a good politician
who wants to accomplish for his constituency looks at their needs and issues
and works from there.
more articles by Rabbi Hecht
Rabbi Hecht's Website: www.sheahecht.com