Every wonder why the “Golden Age in Spain” was so golden for the Jews?
Hint: It wasn’t the gazpacho.
In a nutshell, the reason things were so good for the Jews of Spain generally during the 10th and 11th century was because the Iberian Peninsula was disputed territory. And with the Medieval Christians and Muslims vying for control of region after region, Jews became important players for both sides as advisers, government ministers and merchants. But once the Christians took complete control of Spain, the Jews became expendable. The terrors of the Spanish Inquisition and the expulsion of the Jews in 1492 followed.
Here in the United States, Jews have never come close to the horrors of the Inquisition, but we’re like everyone else in America when it comes to suffering when control of a state or region of the country is dominated by one political party.
We see this in crime and poverty statistics. Major urban areas across the United States with the most severe crime and poverty problems aren’t just dominated by Democrats in office, in some cases there haven’t been any non-Democrat mayors or major officials in those areas in more than 50 years.
Republicans shouldn’t get too smug about that. There are many high-poverty and opioid addiction hotbeds in rural America where only the GOP has dominated for almost as long. The list of the poorest counties in the U.S. reads like a Red State map finder.
The bottom line is one-party rule is deadly and economically ruinous.
So here’s the question: Why do we tolerate it here in New York?
If you don’t realize how bad it is here, check out the latest polls for this November’s governor’s election here in New York. Oh wait, you can’t. Incumbent Democrat Andrew Cuomo is such an obvious shoo-in to win another term, the folks at RealClearPolitics don’t even bother to list New York as one of the gubernatorial races they’re following and posting on their popular “latest polls” web page.
But does anyone really think Cuomo and the Albany Democrats in the State Legislature have done a great job? More likely, Cuomo’s re-election is the result of many voters shrugging their shoulders and accepting that no one other than an establishment Democrat can win statewide office in the Empire State.
It wasn’t always that way.
New York City and New York State recovered from decades of slow economic growth and high crime during a brief period in the 1990s when the state’s leading political power base was split between the two major parties. Republicans George Pataki and Rudy Giuliani held office as Governor of the state and Mayor of NYC, respectively, while Republican Al D’Amato and Democratic Daniel Patrick Moynihan split the two U.S. Senate seats from New York. Even Albany’s legislative bodies were split, with the Democrats in control of the Legislature and the GOP running the State Senate.
This was truly a time when it seemed like things were changing for New York. Even many of the positives we enjoy more than 20 years later have a lot to do with our state’s politicians being forced not to take local voters for granted.
But too many of today’s voters from the Five Boroughs to the Five Towns to the Finger Lakes seem to think it’s impossible to get anything but Brand X.
This is especially true for Jewish voters who have seen their almost unique devotion to the Democratic Party be “rewarded” with more and more antisemitic Democrats in office and anti-Israel groups within the party. Every national poll shows Democrats are far more likely to oppose America’s unique relationship with Israel than Republicans or independents.
Why is this happening? The real question is: Why did it take so long? When any candidate or party can take a certain voting bloc’s support for granted, they tend to ignore them and seek new support elsewhere. Perhaps we Jews should be grateful in that sense. The even greater support African Americans have given the Democratic Party nationwide for 50 years has had disastrous results for that community.
Now look at the most successful people in America, at least in terms of economic success. The misguided belief many hold is that our billionaires are much more likely to be Republicans and staunchly loyal to the GOP. But the facts show that the richest Americans are the ones most likely to play the wiser role of free agents. For every Republican David Koch, there’s a Democrat Tom Steyer. For every Democrat-leaning Warren Buffett, there’s a GOP-favoring Carl Icahn. Even more telling are donors such as Jared Kushner and his father Charles Kushner, billionaires whose support tends to vary from election to election. Talk about keeping all options open and forcing the candidates to deliver!
The funny thing is that as Election Day draws near, we get as close as most of us we’ll ever get to enjoying the kind of power the billionaires do. That is, we get to vote. And as long as we use our vote and demand real choices, we all can win.
Jake Novak has been a TV news producer and editorial columnist for more than 25 years, with expertise in political, economic, religious, and cultural issues. He has produced shows at CNBC, CNN, FOX, and several local stations across the country. Novak is a graduate of the Yeshivah of Flatbush, has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Columbia University, and a master’s degree from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny and watch out for future columns on 5TJT.com.