Many people could not understand how Donald Trump was able to rise from the pack and become president. He used the “politics of fear” to become president.
The Jewish community historically had a high voter turnout. For the past few years the Jewish vote, including the religious communities in Queens, have been abysmally low.
There is a primary for Queens County district attorney. By the time this article comes out, we will know who will have won. In the past, there would have been little interest in the election. I think if you asked most residents in Queens, they probably could not tell you the name of the last district attorney. However, this time there is a candidate named Tiffany Caban who has the support of various individuals who are not friends of the Jewish community.
The reaction in our community has been to try to rally around another candidate to ensure that Caban does not win the primary. This is our local example of the power of the politics of fear. It gets people energized. It is unfortunate that we need a crisis to get people out to vote. People should be voting in every election because every election is important.
The idea of fear of others has led to tribalism even in Congress, where the Democrats will only work with Democrats and Republicans will only work with Republicans.
The theme of Joe Biden’s campaign has been to remind people it was not always that way. We do not need to have the politics of fear or tribalism in Congress. Democrats can work with Republicans or with other Democrats with whom they might not agree on issues to get legislation passed.
To make the point, Biden mentioned that he worked together with two known segregationists, fellow Democrats, Senator James Eastland from Mississippi and Senator Herman Talmadge from Georgia. Biden wanted to use the extreme example of segregationists to point out that even though their view on segregation may have been upsetting to Biden, he still worked with them on other issues. No one is a persona non grata. Biden did not let their views on segregation prohibit him from dealing with them when there was common ground. The purpose of Congress is to try to pass necessary legislation, to do the people’s business. If you must sometimes work with individuals whose views you might believe are repulsive, so be it.
In the words of Joe Biden: “Guess what? At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished. But today, you look at the other side and you’re the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don’t talk to each other anymore.”
This did not go over well with some of his opponents and progressives who do not share Biden’s view of working with those you might disagree with. For example, Senator Cory Booker, who is also running for president, chimed in: “Vice President Biden’s relationships with proud segregationists are not the model for how we make America a safer and more inclusive place for black people, and for everyone. I have to tell Vice President Biden, as someone I respect, that he is wrong for using his relationships with Eastland and Talmadge as examples of how to bring our country together.”
Our mayor also tweeted: “It’s 2019 & @JoeBiden is longing for the good old days of ‘civility’ typified by James Eastland. Eastland thought my multiracial family should be illegal & that whites were entitled to ‘the pursuit of dead n*ggers.’
Before you dismiss their criticism out of hand, imagine members of Congress who are strong supporters of Israel working with representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ihan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib on issues where they can find common ground. If Biden was able to work with segregationists, then Israel supporters who are members of Congress should work with Omar, Tlaib, and Ocasio-Cortez on issues of common ground. Do you agree with such an approach? If you feel otherwise, then you are in the progressive camp on this issue. It’s your choice.
By Warren S. Hecht