Little Hope for Change Seen by Jews

Skeptical Jewish Electorate Still Flocks to Polls for Obama

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By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published November 07, 2012, issue of November 16, 2012.
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In conversations with Jewish seniors, it was clear that the Ryan pick and the Medicare issue hadn’t changed many minds. Older Democrats expressed fears of the Ryan budget’s supposed designs on Medicare, while older Republicans talked about Obamacare’s supposed impact on Medicaid.

“They do not seem to grasp that the taxes will rise in Obamacare, that [Medicare] offers less, that some diseases will not be treated in the elderly,” said Tybee Zuckerman, a frustrated Romney supporter in Cleveland, of Jews backing Obama.

Those for whom the Medicare issue didn’t confirm previous biases mostly seemed put off by the charges and counter-charges.

“I don’t know who to believe when they’re talking to each other,” said Buddy Marks, 72, a resident of a retirement community in Boynton Beach, Fla.

Some young radicals whom the Forward interviewed in Lake Worth said they had decided not to vote at all. Older Jews said that they empathized with their alienation.

“I can understand these kids. I really do,” Menzer, the 78-year-old Floridian, told the Forward in September. “The society has changed.”

These expressions of a lack of faith that government can solve social and economic problems — admittedly anecdotal — are out of step with an American Jewish tradition that has historically bought heavily into the power of government to effect change.

Academic experts the Forward contacted who study the American Jewish community warned that there was no evidence that the disenchantment Forward reporters saw on the ground pointed to a broader Jewish communal trend. Still, some speculated on what these observations might mean.


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