As William F. Buckley once reminded us, classical conservatives tended to be anti-Semitic. They looked down on Jews, blacks and immigrants, and had chauvinist ideas about women. It’s part of what being a conservative meant.
That began to change 50 years ago, when neoconservatism — that is, Jewish conservatism — began to take hold. Neoconservatism separated right-wing economic policies from paleoconservatism’s racism, sexism and anti-Semitism. Newly ascendant Jewish Republicans could now associate with the same conservatives who once wouldn’t let them into their social clubs.
But social conservatism never went away. On the contrary, it’s the reason the Republican Party exists today. And Jewish Republicans who prop it up are deceiving themselves.
On the first point, let’s look at the numbers. Republicans came to power in the 1980s because of the “Southern Strategy” — pandering to the racism of some Southerners — and the ascendant Christian Right. Ever since that time, neocons have had to make a deal with the devil. To gain power over economic and foreign affairs, they depend on the same religious (and often racist) paleoconservatives that were supposed to be neo-d out.
This is as true today as it was in 1980. Sure, there are some moderates surrounding Mitt Romney, including many Jews. But they will only gain power thanks to the Republican Party’s extreme Christian Right and Tea Party fringes. Just look at the numbers: Forty-six percent of Americans believe in Creationism. Almost all of them are Republicans; that means that there’s only a sliver of Republicans who aren’t also extremely traditionally religious. Who do you think really calls the shots?
Who’s using whom?
Jewish Republicans may pretend that they’re pulling a lever for smaller government and more free enterprise. But that same lever advances ignorance, theocracy and religious coercion. Of course, most Jewish Republicans don’t favor the Christian Right’s positions. But that’s what a Republican vote means, and to pretend otherwise is just willful ignorance.
Here are three ways it manifests:
1) The Christian Right Does Not Have Your Best Interests at Heart
When a token Orthodox rabbi appears on a panel of priests and ministers in opposition to contraception coverage, what’s really going on? He’s being used. As long as the photo-op is Judeo-Christian rather than just Christian, then the Republican Party can pretend it’s standing up for “religious freedom” in general. But make no mistake: The Christian conservatives standing next to that rabbi are the same people who want to ban the teaching of evolution in schools, return prayer to public classrooms and make America (once again?) a Christian nation. They don’t have the best interests of American Jews at heart — they’re just using a photogenic Jew as window dressing to cover their radical Christian agenda.
Nor does it matter that Romney himself is a Mormon. If Romney is elected, he will have debts to pay. Let’s face it: Whatever your politics, it’s obvious that Mitt Romney is a politician first and foremost. Do you really think he’s going to stand up to the very people who got him elected? Of course not. He is going to put an anti-choice conservative on the Supreme Court. Roe vs. Wade will be overturned. Because that’s what Romney has to do politically. I don’t know what Romney really believes, but I do know what his base believes — and that is not good for the Jews.