For the past six months, we have been complaining about Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. From conversations in shul, one would think that these three first-term members of Congress are the most serious threat facing the Jewish community.
Last week, the forces of the Justice Democrats and the Democratic Socialists of America, the same people who supported AOC, Tlaib, and Omar, scored a major triumph right here in Queens with Tiffany Cabán’s victory in the Democratic Primary for District Attorney. This time, we have only ourselves to blame. In an election between a Borough President who has been supportive of the needs of the Jewish community and a candidate rated as “unqualified” by the Bar Association and supported by the most extreme leftists, the response of our community was a collective yawn. Given the opportunity to defeat a candidate supported by some of the most anti-Semitic figures in the Democratic Party, close to 90 percent of us failed to take advantage of it.
This result should be a wake-up call. We need to face reality. In New York City in general, and in Queens in particular, the Democratic Primary is the election. The Justice Democrats and the Democratic Socialists of America represent only a small portion of the population, but they are the people who vote in every primary, donate to campaigns, and knock on doors to convince their friends and neighbors to vote for their candidates. They will not stop with electing Cabán. They will challenge the elected officials who have supported our community. In 2021, term limits will mean that we will be electing a new Mayor, Comptroller, and Borough President, as well as several new City Councilmebers. You can be sure that the Justice Democrats and the Democratic Socialists of America will support and work for candidates in every one of those races. There is nothing sinister or evil about this. These are people who are deeply committed to the causes they believe in and are willing to do whatever they can to promote them.
Rather than attack them, we should learn from them. We should be as devoted to our causes as they are to theirs. That means getting involved in the political process.
At a minimum, that means that each and every one of us should vote in the Democratic Primary.
Many people concerned about the leftward drift of the Democratic Party and its failure to deal with anti-Semitism in its own ranks feel that we should become Republicans in protest. While this is understandable, those of us who do so are actually doing exactly what AOC and others associated with the Justice Democrats and the Democratic Socialists of America want us to do.
Their strategy for gaining power is to win Democratic primaries in which the vast majority of people do not vote. Our failure to vote in Democratic Primaries makes their job that much easier.
To vote in the Democratic Primary, you must be an enrolled Democrat. Being an enrolled Democrat does not stop you from voting Republican in the general election in November. It does give you the right to vote in the Democratic Primary where the real decisions about who will represent our neighborhoods are made. When we refuse to vote in the Democratic Primary, we are effectively forfeiting our right to choose our elected officials.
To vote in the 2020 Democratic Primary you must enroll as a Democrat before October 11, 2019. The future of our community is at stake. Do not waste time. Do it now. You can obtain the form online at vote.nyc.ny.us. If you have a valid New York State Department of Motor Vehicles ID, you can enroll online at dmv.ny.gov. If you need assistance, you can call 917-747-8848.
The battle to determine who will represent our neighborhoods and to prevent the Justice Democrats and the Democratic Socialists of America from becoming ever more powerful will be fought in the Democratic primaries. You can be engaged on the front lines of that battle by enrolling to vote in the Democratic primaries, or you can sit on the sidelines and complain as those who are hostile to the needs of our community become ever more powerful. The choice is yours.
By Manny Behar