At L.A. Deli, a Side of Politics
FAIRFAX, LOS ANGELES — In Los Angeles’ heavily Jewish Fairfax District, Bill and Jay, a couple of alte kochers lingering over bagels and coffee at Canter’s Deli (“Regulars,” said one of the Canter’s staff, “Same table, same food, same shtick!”), seemed to evoke the two sides of the Jewish vote here.
“I’ve very excited,” Bill said. “It’s going to be a big day for Republicans.” Although he was one of the only Republicans he knew, Jewish or otherwise, he opined that there are a growing number of Jewish Republicans “because liberals are basically enemies of Jews and of Israel.”
A “red diaper baby” whose parents, he said, were Communists, his hope was that a GOP surge today would “turn this country around from socialism back to an American direction.”
From across the table, Bill’s buddy Jay grinned. “You can ask me the same questions and my answers will be the total opposite of Bill’s,” he said.
A New York native living in California for 50 years, Jay said his main concern going into the polling booth was not Israel or issues pertaining to Jews, but the state of California. “I’m concerned about straightening it out,” he said. “Israel is another country. America is my country.” Not hewing to a party ticket, he said he voted for Meg Whitman, a Republican, for governor, and for Barbara Boxer, a Democrat, for senator. And a “yes” for Prop 19, which would legalize marijuana.
“I voted no,” frowned Bill. “Pot is a liberal thing.”
At the polling place down the street at the Jewish Family Services, the only excitement was two Fire Department trucks askew in front, lights flashing and EMT teams aiding an elderly man injured in a fall. Of the slow trickle of voters emerging, a few stopped to voice their feelings, including 90-year-old Margaret Gold for whom foreign policy is important. She said that she“regularly reads news about the Middle East “on my computer.” Despite her feeling that “Obama isn’t good for Israel,” Gold said she voted, as she always has, the straight Democratic ticket.
Fifty-one year old Fairfax resident Michael Miller, a writer and attorney, said his concern going in to vote was for politicians’ “debating and posturing … getting too little done,” and by what he perceived as a movement toward “extreme positions” by both parties. His parents instilled in him a sense of civic duty as part of his Jewish background, he said, but issues involving Israel and Jews were not important to him, at least “not in this election.”
Steve and Laura, a couple in their mid-40s, expressed surprise at the lack of crowds at the polling place. For Steve, his big concern was about Prop 19 and the state’s rights conflict looming with the federal government if California voters approved the measure legalizing marijuana. Laura, on the other hand, was particularly happy with the abundance of female candidates. “I voted for every woman on the ballot,” she joked before they walked off down Fairfax led by their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.