I had thought that by now, even ultra-Trumpers would have realized that the jig is up, that Joseph Biden was, with certitude, elected president on November 3. Elliot Pasik’s “Did We Just Divorce President Trump?” (December 11 issue) tells me that I am wrong.
Pasik’s primary beef is with Jewish organizations who expressed congratulations to President-elect Biden. How, he asks, could they do this given that the election is “contested”? Why do they arrogate to themselves the right to decide the winner? (I speak in the present tense because Pasik’s piece was written before the Electoral College certified Biden’s win. Perhaps Pasik is today ready to recognize reality, although Trump still refuses to concede.) Pasik reserves particular ire for Orthodox groups such as the Rabbinical Council of America, the Orthodox Union, and Agudath Israel, because, he avers, the constituents of those groups largely voted for Trump. How could these Orthodox organizations betray their constituents?
In the schoolyards where I played as a kid, the term for this was “sore loser.” A good loser congratulations his/her opponent rather than stamping his feet at perceived inequities.
Moreover, while these organizations are by definition apolitical, I conjecture that many of their leaders did vote for Trump. On a personal level, these leaders were likely disappointed in the outcome. However, as Jewish advocacy groups have always done, the RCA, the OU, and Agudah, among others, understand that promoting our causes and values requires working with whoever is in power. Shtadlanus is a time-honored practice. Further, basic mentschlichkeit requires that we congratulate the winner of a contest rather than railing and ranting.
Unless, perhaps, if the contest was inherently unfair. And here Pasik advances the discredited view that there is not yet a winner because the election is “contested.” No, it is not contested. The results of the election have been crystal clear for weeks. Biden won and Trump lost. Full stop. The fact that absurd (and forthwith dismissed) challenges were repeatedly mounted is meaningless, because there was no substance to these challenges. One may contest the notion that two plus two is four, but to do so does not mean that the notion is “contested.” Yes, no matter how often one challenges it, two plus two is four; and no matter how often a lie is shouted to the contrary, Trump lost, and he lost convincingly. (The electoral margin Biden achieved is identical to the one Trump attained in 2016, and Trump termed his win a “landslide.”)
Pasik proceeds to list Trump accomplishments that are mostly supported by our community, including the remarkable peace agreements struck among Israel and several Arab states. Pasik is correct that Trump gets credit for positive things he has done. But Pasik seems to draw a line from Trump policies to the fairness of the election. What does one have to do with the other? Yes, among the bad he did (downplaying COVID-19, bashing NATO, cozying up to dictators, sowing distrust in our democratic system), Trump has done good. This should not require us to jump on the “fake election” bandwagon. We don’t owe it to him to participate in his charade and to endorse his rantings. It is not we who “divorced” Trump; the American electorate did so, and it did so resoundingly.
The greatest casualty of the Trump era has been the truth. The president has managed, with the help of social media run amok, to downgrade truth from an absolute to a variable commodity. Pasik’s article advances this dangerous process. I am uncertain why this drivel deserved lead placement on your front page, and I don’t know why it masqueraded as a factual news piece rather than as a letter or an opinion article.
We appreciate your steady flow of letters and astute, albeit misguided, criticisms on a somewhat consistent basis. As the saying goes, you are certainly entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.
I guess with your overconsumption of media like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, you may not have been aware of the massive fraud that seems to have given Mr. Biden the electoral victory that you imagine. There are specific electoral laws that are invoked to address these specific issues. CNN and The New York Times will not cover these matters so it is no surprise that you are unaware.
The media wants us to believe that Joe Biden received 80 million votes without campaigning, though it just might be that those daily afternoon naps made quite an impression on the American electorate.
Fortunately the outcome of elections in this country are not determined by Avi Goldstein. Joe Biden may in fact be the next president of the U.S., but do you want to deny President Trump his constitutional right?
Civility of Discourse
After reading Elliot Pasik’s article entitled “Did We Just Divorce President Trump?” in the December 9 issue, it became clear to me that a response defending our community leadership was necessary. Let me start by saying that the analogy of a marriage ending and divorce with political necessity is akin to comparison between an apple and a steak, but Elliot makes the analogy so I will debunk the entire premise here. Our community rabbis were correct to wish Biden a mazel tov.
Our community leadership involves itself in politics daily for good reason. Political discourse when approached with civility and decency is a bedrock of democratic principles and constructive for a society. Plato stated that the reason for a Republic was to assure the civility of discourse of decision making and assure the population does not choose violence over voting. The Trump presidency has been a model of discourse and debate that has led nowhere rapidly. The Trump presidency ended long before the rabbinic leadership sent their best wishes to President-elect Joseph Biden and the facts of the election were clear for all who had real interests in the outcome. Rabbinic leadership saw a new president with whom they may not have always agreed, but with whom they needed to cooperate and have a voice at the table with. Elliot Pasik can talk about lawsuits and Giuliani stomping around the nation attempting to gain the support of the masses, but these attempts at overturning an election were never close to a real institutional threat to Biden.
Elections are based upon the number of votes cast and the ability to win the Electoral College, and as we all know (especially Elliot Pasik, who is an attorney) election laws are determined by the state therein. Federal courts have very little if any say in the law or if the law was broken. Bringing these cases into federal court was the equivalent of bringing a divorce agreement into a bankruptcy court, and state courts ruled quickly that they had no basis, as did all the attorney generals of the states in question, and I will say Republican attorney generals as well.
One may have supported President Trump (I did not) and thought he was the greatest, most honorable president who ever occupied the White House, but when his attorney general, William Barr, spoke and stated that the election was not being overturned, that was a statement that was no surprise to anyone. If the potential for hearing these cases actually existed, Barr would have long since pursued them. He did not and the rabbinic leadership knew it was over. So rather than fight a battle and continue supporting someone with whom time was ticking, the rabbinic leadership made the correct political move and turned the page. They turned the page knowing this election was over and knowing the potential for continued embarrassment and criticism still exists. Nobody is going to want to find themselves associated with President Trump once his tax returns are released and once he and his family members are subpoenaed to testify about the issues brought up by Michael Cohen, including many within the Republican Party. One can say that our leadership divorced itself from President Trump, or one can say that President Trump was unable to change the facts. I would say that President Trump refused to concede. The facts remain for all to witness and our community is not going to want a connection to these facts in seven or eight months.
Just The Facts
Dear Mr. Pasik,
I am writing in response to your article entitled “Did We Just Divorce President Trump?” which appeared in the Five Towns Jewish Times last week.
While every person is entitled to their own opinions, I was surprised that someone with your background would let their emotions get the better of them and camouflage factual information from this past election.
The facts are that Joe Biden received more popular and electoral votes than Donald Trump. When the media declared that Mr. Biden had won states and that President Trump could not overcome the vote totals, this secured Mr. Biden the 270 electoral votes needed to be declared the winner of the presidential election.
I am fully aware of the rules of the Electoral College. I know that the college met on December 14 to cast ballots and these will be read by Mike Pence in the Senate on January 6. So my saying that he secured these votes in early November is not civically accurate but every election for decades has used this barometer to award the presidency to the winner as soon as election night.
While the term “president-elect” is from the 20th Amendment, as you stated, this term has been used every election cycle in November and December, including for then president-elect Trump in 2016. Were you saying back then that the media has coined this term and he hasn’t won anything? If Hillary Clinton had said there was fraud, what would you have said back then?
As I stated in the beginning, your emotions have obscured what really occurred. We all know that President Trump has done a lot for Israel (as you mentioned). While the election results may upset you, why would that allow you to automatically think there was fraud just because the president said so? The media didn’t say Biden won; the states with secure election systems said so. This has been upheld by 30+ court decisions, including by the U.S. Supreme Court.
You chose to write this in December and chose to close your article hoping he is sworn in January 20. So because the president is pro-Israel you are hoping somehow democracy is thwarted and millions of votes (which weren’t fraudulent) are negated thus disenfranchising huge groups of people.
This was not a divorce — to suggest something this strong is very troubling — rather Orthodox rabbis who realize they will have to work with a new president and they should trust the results as is done every four years.
The reason why I publicly put my email address on the article is because I wanted comments. I do acknowledge that I, and most others, are susceptible to fair and valid comments and criticism, and so I do thank you for your email, which does make valid points. I emphasize valid, although I do not necessarily agree, or agree in part.
When I was on the Zev Brenner radio show Saturday night, I did voluntarily acknowledge that “president-elect” is not only a legal term that is found in the Constitution. The president-elect term doesn’t formally kick in until December 14, when the Electoral College votes, but it is also a popular term, as you write, and I agree. It is true, as you write, that in previous elections, the media, using president-elect as a popular term, has declared the identity of the president elect. But that is when the results are undisputed, and/or where the loser has conceded. Currently, we have a unique situation in which we have a bunch of factors in the mix that have resulted in a bunch of people, including me, questioning the integrity of our national election — media bias, inept pollsters, unsolicited mail-in ballots, and incompetent state election boards (just look at the Tenny–Brindisi election race in upstate New York, involving eight counties, where a judge ordered a recount, and called the election boards are incompetent).
It is not only Donald Trump raising claims of illegality and fraud. He has a strong legal team, and these guys and gals don’t say the things they’re saying unless they’ve reviewed the facts. I’m impressed with their credentials and accomplishments. I’ve been practicing civil litigation for nearly 40 years.
Nevertheless, if the Trump case is lost, and Biden is sworn in on January 2, people like me need to live with it.
Yes, as you write, the Trump lawsuits have been dismissed. Nevertheless, I’ve seen firsthand how judges are timid and commit errors, even in the U.S. Supreme Court.
The core point of my article is that more than 80 percent of orthodox Jews voted for Trump. As I said on the Zev Brenner show, that is unprecedented in American history. It is a big deal. The orthodox organizations in particular had no moral, ethical, or legal right to ignore that, and give a premature mazel tov to Joe Biden.
Seriously, I do thank you for your thought provoking email.
Elliot B. Pasik is a graduate of Cardozo Law School, Yeshiva University, J.D.; and Clark University in Worcester, Mass. He is a practicing civil litigation attorney in Cedarhurst