SAN FRANCISCO (Oct. 20)
The United States is entering the most important presidential election in my lifetime. Karl Rove, President Bush’s brilliant and feared political advisor, has accurately observed that this election will set the nature and course of American politics for the next 20 to 40 years. Likewise, this election is a watershed for Israel and Jews. It also is a turning point for me.
Between Bush and the Democratic candidate, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, there is a fundamental dichotomy based on different philosophies of governance and conduct.
Bush has good intentions in many areas of policy and action, but his means frequently are ineffective and dangerous.
The GOP, where I was a significant financial donor and loyalist, now is practicing governance based on the evangelical religious conviction of Bush combined with dogmatism, disregard for dialogue and reinterpretation of the truth.
The Democrats have become the party of moderates, centrists and inclusiveness. They understand strength, economic opportunity, civil rights for a diverse society, the importance of the middle class, fiscal responsibility and economic hope.
I did not leave the Republican Party, having been registered Republican since university, but the Republican Party left — or better yet, took a hard right — from me.
I’m a centrist whose politics have not changed: I’m fiscally conservative and believe in a dominant military and strong support for Israel, but am moderate on social and domestic issues.
The Republican Party’s swing to the far right has disenfranchised the “Rockefeller Republicans.” There is no such thing as a moderate Republican in the current leadership.
The current swing to the far right has created an environment in which tolerance for diversity is being threatened. Unbelievably, the platform of the Republican Party of Texas “affirms that the United States of America is a Christian nation, and the public acknowledgment of God is undeniable in our history.”
It continues, “Our Party pledges to exert its influence to restore the original intent of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and dispel the myth of the separation of Church and State.”
Bush has remained silent. Gary Bauer, former president of the Family Research Council, crediting Bush with Pat Robertson’s decision to resign as president of the Christian Coalition, said, “I think Robertson stepped down because the position has already been filled,” and Bush “is that leader right now.”
Is it any surprise that there has been a religious attack on science under President Bush, stem cell research being one example?
It’s not only the Republican’s new intolerance that threatens America. Bush’s handling of important issues such as Supreme Court appointments, civil liberties, Iraq-Iran and health care are disasters in waiting.
The class divide is potentially the most destructive: There never has been a stable government of the people that has survived without a prosperous, vibrant and inclusive middle class.
The erosion of the middle class, combined with an aging population supported by fewer workers, will be a threat to the stability of our nation within 20 years if not addressed immediately.
Kerry has a plan for this but Bush does not, other than trickle-down economics and wanton deficit and war spending to stimulate the economy.
I’m most concerned with the future of America in coping with our $7.5 trillion national debt. The Chinese and Japanese and the Arab oil producers are the primary purchasers of our debt.
In cases where we have to use clout to enforce trade agreements, take military action or take other actions required of a superpower, if our bankers don’t agree they won’t finance our deficit and the liquidity will be drained from our economy, diminishing our ability to exert influence.
That could mean that the United States will no longer be a superpower, and may be less able to defend staunch allies like Israel and NATO.
This is a real, scary scenario: We are financing our excess in ways that create long-term threats to our security and leadership.
The good news is that Israel will have a close friend in the White House regardless of the vote: Both candidates are strong advocates for and defenders of Israel. The difference, though, is in philosophy and means.
The United States must rejoin the international community and reduce hatred of America throughout the world. If the United States cannot wield strong international influence and does not regain its position of moral authority, it may be unable to defend Israel effectively over the long term or create stability in the Middle East.
Kerry has had a 100 percent pro-Israel voting record during his 20-year tenure in the Senate. Further, Kerry will be more effective on the war on terrorism because he is intent on holding countries such as Saudi Arabia accountable for funding and encouraging terrorists, promoting anti-Semitism, educating their children in faith-based hatred and harboring militants.
I am confident in Kerry’s conviction and history to support and strengthen Israel. Kerry says he has a deep commitment to “continue to fight for Israel, for a safe, secure, democratic Jewish State of Israel. And that commitment is absolutely unwavering.”
Kerry has said that, if elected, he will never force Israel to make concessions that compromise its security.
Bush, though, has made no demonstrable progress on issues important to the long-term security of Israel, such as creating stability in post-Saddam Iraq or stopping Iran’s nuclear development, and he has a “sweetheart” relationship with the Saudi royal family.
It pains me greatly that the Republican Party has moved to the extreme right and has weakened the United States both at home and abroad. Further, without a strong United States, there cannot be a strong Israel.
Kerry is the start to repairing and improving the safety and economies of the United States, Israel and our other allies. This is a vote about the philosophy and means that govern our future: far-right fundamentalism versus common sense, inclusion and thoughtfulness.
Being dogmatic does not mean strength; tunnel vision is weakness. Kerry has proven, time and time again, that he is strong, deliberate and truthful.
The choice is clear: This former moderate Jewish Republican is now a Democrat and staunch supporter of John Kerry. Eric Greenberg is president and CEO of Innovation Investments, LLC, a diversified investment holding company.