My Two Shekels: Which presidential candidate is best for Jews?
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My Two Shekels: Which presidential candidate is best for Jews?

My two shekelsby Rabbi Leah Jordan

As the race for the White House heats up, which candidate is best for the Jews?30 Rabbi Leah Jordan

We are currently in the middle of the American presidential primary season, where all voting-eligible Americans who want to will get a chance to caucus and vote for their preferred presidential nominee for both the Democratic and Republican parties.  This even includes Americans living abroad, like me.

As of the time of writing, after Super Tuesday and with around 20 to 30 percent of delegates now pledged, the choices are crystallising: likely Hillary Clinton for the Democrats and, it grieves me to say his name, Donald Trump for the GOP [an abbreviation for Grand Old Party: the Republicans].

As this general election shapes up, there is cause for both much joy and much anxiety. On the one hand, the Democratic nomination has been fought out by two fascinating, strong candidates – Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. From a Jewish perspective, Sanders is an especially interesting candidate.

He is a self-identified ‘social democrat’ whose public press package proudly and simply says “Jewish” under “religion”. His brand of radical Progressivism comes largely out of the Saul Alinsky style of politics. Alinsky was the great activist, and son of Russian Jewish immigrants, known as the godfather of community organising.

His work seeded the ground for the civil rights movements of the 60s and 70s in America. Alinsky also inspired Sanders’ opponent, with his tactics, as expressed in Rules for Radicals, the subject of Hillary Clinton’s (then Rodham’s) undergraduate thesis.

Hillary is also very appealing to me, as a very experienced candidate who is looking to become America’s first female President. On the other side, the field, split between conservative and establishment/moderate Republican candidates, has been swept by Donald Trump, the son of a self-made real estate man.

From Trump’s rhetoric about banning Muslims, to his proposed deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants, to his most recent hesitation to disavow endorsements from white supremacists, his road to the nomination is an ugly one.

Perhaps similarly to the UK’s upcoming referendum on ‘Brexit’, Trump has played into populist anger and anxiety around a changing, more globalised, unstable, and more diverse world.

Trump wants a share of those votes. As news journalist Mika Brzezinski recently asked: “How about a share of morality?”

If this presidential election is a referendum between the Progressive Jewish values represented by Alinksy’s fight for economic and racial justice on the one hand and the reactionary, racist, nationalist dogma of an ideologue on the other, it’s a bizarrely easy (but also important and urgent) choice – for us and for the wider Jewish community.

• Rabbi Leah Jordan is Liberal Judaism’s student and young adult chaplain

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