Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Jewish Vote

Anyone who thinks that there is a unified "Jewish Vote" has never attended a family dinner in a Jewish household. The far reaching disucssions, I mean arguments, range from "it's cold in here" "no it's not" to "the Phillies stink" "they're going to win the Series."
I'm reminded of the Alan Dershowitz story. A Jewish man was rescued from a deserted island after years of solitude. He had built two large structures. The rescuer asked about the buildings. The rescued man pointed to one and said "this is the synagogue that I attend." Then he pointed to the other equally large structure and said, "and that one, that one is the one I would never set foot in."
To get back to the so-called Jewish Vote. There are Republicans and Democrats, Conservatives and Liberals, Communists and Socialists, and Independents. To give examples from our family. Uncle George branded Medicare as socialized medicine and vowed that Medicare would ruin the country and bankrupt the doctors. Aunt Betty loved Medicare. She couldn't wait to be admitted to the hospital because she loved hospital food. She opted for hospitalization even when out-patient treatment was available and maybe even preferable.
Uncle Sol was the Republican committee man when he was drafted into the SeaBees - an overweight, out of shape, 37-year old lawyer. The democratically controlled draft board denied him an exemption and he was a staunch Republican then and forever. The rest of the family kept their political inclinations to themselves, except for one family that was branded as "pinkos" with no proof. We never were permitted to visit them. Perhaps out of fear of "contagion."
Back to the family dinner. There was always at least one person who just could not show up on time. To the sounds of "the dinenr is getting cold" that emanated from the kitchen, the debate raged. Should we wait or start? Usually, the starting won but, the meal never officially began until Uncle Joe showed up and knocked over his glass of red wine.
After dinner, or before, the arguments over what to watch on TV were decided by the woman of the house who said "enough" and pulled out the plug. Then the discussions became emotional, intellectual, and heated, but the participants never came to blows.
Uncle Rob voted for Henry Wallace and Wendel Wilkie. Everybody tried to avoid political talks with him because he was sure that the world would have been a better place if his candidates had won. The family attributed his political views to his sweet tooth. There were never too many desserts or too much candy around for Uncle Rob.
Nobody ever questioned the voting habits of other family members. Whoever volunteered his preferences usually faced ridicule or arguments - some even meaningful but the only unified vote in our Jewish family household was that we all loved each other and the country, no matter what lever we pulled on election day.

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