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The case for independents

Becoming an Independent provides a safe alternative for Jews in 2024, which continues to fully blossom into 1938.

Voters fill out their ballots on Election Day in Columbus, Ohio, Nov. 7, 2023. Credit: Megan Zelinger/AFP via Getty Images.
Voters fill out their ballots on Election Day in Columbus, Ohio, Nov. 7, 2023. Credit: Megan Zelinger/AFP via Getty Images.
Karen Lehrman Bloch
Karen Lehrman Bloch
Karen Lehrman Bloch is editor in chief of White Rose Magazine.

Growing up in the home of a staunch Republican and an equally staunch Democrat, I became an Independent; it seemed like the sensible choice. The more I began to understand our political system—how partisan it can become, how parties change through the years—the more I remained steadfast in my choice.

When I worked at The New Republic in the early ‘90s, most of my friends were Democrats because the party still represented classical liberalism: Liberty, justice, equality, pluralism, civil society. With Republicans at the time, you never knew if a sexist or racist comment was on its way. Nevertheless, I chose candidates based on who they were, not which party they represented.

When I moved to New York City and 9/11 happened, the first thing I said to my father was: “I’m glad there’s a Republican in the White House.” It was beginning to become obvious that Democrats were on a dramatic decline into what we now call “leftism”: Illiberalism on every front. As any self-reflective Democrat would have to admit, John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. would not call themselves Democrats today. 

I had also become less convinced about the Democrats’ ability to run things (my father’s favorite expression: Democrats can’t run a lemonade stand); fighting terrorism was not something I could see them doing effectively.

Terrorism is again at the forefront, as well as antisemitism and Israel. Leaving aside President Joe Biden’s flip-flops on Israel, just in the last week in New York City, District Attorney Alvin Bragg incomprehensibly dropped all charges against the mini-jihadists who stormed and occupied Columbia University. A Jewish mom, her husband and 16-year-old son were beaten at a Brooklyn elementary school graduation by a Muslim family, who first taunted them with shouts of “Death to Israel!” 

At the mostly unpeaceful protests throughout the city, pro-jihadists waved “flags” from Hamas and Hezbollah and celebrated Oct. 7. A Jewish woman passing by one at Hunter College was told to hang herself. 

While Mayor Eric Adams has voiced numerous condemnations, the New York City Council, run by self-proclaimed socialists, has cheered all of this on. Over the past decade, the council has granted nearly $3 million to five nonprofits that helped organize or support these radical anti-Israel student protests.

We can no longer ignore the obvious: Most of the Democratic Party today actively or passively opposes the existence of Israel and has helped to enable a global pogrom against Jews.

American Jews who don’t want to make Aliyah yet have two options: Become a Republican or an Independent. Third parties have never worked in the U.S. and I don’t see that changing.

For many, former President Donald Trump is a barrier to even thinking about becoming a Republican. That’s understandable, but one also has to admit that Trump wouldn’t have happened if the Democrats hadn’t gone off the deep end. Also understandable is a worry about the growing neo-isolationist wing of the GOP, a wing that is peppered with vocal antisemites; though I think most of us would love to be able to use our “space lasers” to control the weather right now.

Becoming an Independent provides a safe alternative for Jews in 2024, which continues to fully blossom into 1938. But despite the antisemitic ideology of leftism—and the blatant antisemitism of many elected Democrats—most Jews are still registered Democrats.

Becoming an Independent doesn’t mean you can’t vote for Rep. Ritchie Torres or Sen. John Fetterman—the two strongest voices of reason in the Democratic Party today—or for any of the suspiciously silent Jewish Democrats. 

The one thing you can’t do is vote in many primaries. Right now, I believe the trade-off is well worth it. 

Becoming an Independent is also in sync with Judaism’s nonconformist roots. The cult-like partisanship of both parties should have been enough for Jews to leave.

A historic exit from the Democratic Party today will send a message. Anyone who cares about a future for Jews in the U.S. needs to understand this. The argument for staying and “fighting from within” is no longer viable; it’s clear the party will never return to classical liberalism. It needs to die, receive a proper burial in Iran and then a new classical liberal party can emerge.

Jews need to stop identifying with people who blatantly hate us. And at the moment, most of the haters definitely couldn’t run a lemonade stand.

Originally published by Jewish Journal.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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