ByÂ Shmuel Katz
When we lived in the United States, I liked to watch the political conventions. Not because I was a politically active or concerned person, but more because I liked some of the theater and also to see who the speakers would be. You might catch an “up and coming” politician who would give an amazing speech at a convention, kicking off the buzz about possible presidential aspirations (Mario Cuomo in 1984 and Barack Obama in 2004) or a narrowly defeated candidate overshadowing the victor (Ronald Reagan in 1976 and Ted Kennedy in 1980), a move that Ted Cruz failed to pull off successfully this year. And there is simply the train wreck you can’t take your eyes off (Clint Eastwood’s empty chair, which I saw online).
At this point in our lives, we have become one-issue voters in U.S. politics. I am Israeli and my kids (except one) are Israeli. My concerns are focused primarily on who would be best for Israel. So I’ve drifted away from caring so much about American politics and hadn’t planned on paying any attention to the conventions. And I didn’t.
What I did notice, however, is my social-media feed and my newsfeeds. Among the people with whom I am in regular contact, this election is a no-brainer. There is absolutely zero uncertainty as to who the next U.S. president should and will be. No matter who it is they support, they support that person with a fervor bordering on religious fury. And, on the flip side, they are all equally convinced that the other candidate would not only be a disastrous choice, but is also guilty of multiple grievous offenses that are outrageously being ignored.
“Liar!” “Cheater!” “She copied our speech!” “Here is a list of the lies from his/her speech!” The accusations back and forth seem to never end. Do we think that lying and copying from others was just invented? Are we so naive as to think that both sides are truthful without spin? Please.
I haven’t lived in the United States for over a decade, so I may have missed something in the last couple of elections. But I cannot remember this level of nasty, hateful rhetoric in a presidential campaign. Maybe it was there among the most die-hard Republicans and Democrats, but you didn’t see it coming from the average voter.
Interestingly, it is something that I have seen in Israel on a continuing basis. The amount of rancor in the political arena here is way over the top. And it is not just with the voters. The politicians regularly hurl outrageous insults and accusations against each other on the Knesset floor and to the media.
Since the mid-’90s, Israel’s trade balance with the U.S. has been positive, currently hovering around $10 billion more exported to the U.S. than we import. Apparently, we are now exporting more than just goods and services to the U.S.
I am sure that there are many opinions why the climate in the U.S. has changed. But it has–and I do not think it is a change for the better. Except for one important thing.
One of these two nauseating choices is actually going to win this election and be the “leader of the free world.” As I pointed out a few weeks ago, the current political (and soon to be real) climate in the U.S. is, in my opinion, going to be a great motivation for the next big wave of aliyah.Â v
Shmuel Katz, his wife Goldie, and their six children made aliyah in July 2006. Before making aliyah, Shmuel was the executive director of the Yeshiva of South Shore in Hewlett. You can contact him at email@example.com.