Sheldon Adelson, writing in The Wall Street Journal, explains why he no longer identified with the Democratic Party — the party that he and his Jewish immigrant family identified with when he was growing up in Boston.
My critics nowadays like to claim it’s because I got wealthy or because I didn’t want to pay taxes or because of some other conservative caricature. No, the truth is the Democratic Party has changed in ways that no longer fit with someone of my upbringing.
Adelson makes three main arguments:
1) Democrats are no longer as pro-Israel:
A sobering Gallup poll from last March asked: "Are your sympathies more with the Israelis or more with the Palestinians?" Barely 53% of Democrats chose Israel, the sole liberal democracy in the region. By contrast, an overwhelming 78% of Republicans sympathized with Israel.
He writes that there is "a visceral anti-Israel movement among rank-and-file Democrats, a disturbing development that my parents’ generation would not have ignored." As evidence he cites the booing from some delegates at the Democratic convention when references to Jerusalem and God were restored to the party’s platform in an inconclusive voice vote.
2) Democrats are less charitable than Republicans:
After studying tax data from the IRS, the nonpartisan Chronicle of Philanthropy recently reported that states that vote Republican are now far more generous to charities than those voting Democratic. My father, who kept a charity box for the poor in our house, would have frowned on this fact about modern Democrats.
3) Democrats’ liberal policies "don’t deliver on their promises of social justice":
Take, for example, President Obama’s adopted home state. In October, a nonpartisan study of Illinois’s finances by the State Budget Crisis Task Force offered painful evidence that liberal Illinois is suffering from abject economic, demographic and social decline. With the worst credit rating in the country, and with the second-biggest public debt per capita, the Prairie State "has been doing back flips on a high wire, without a net," according to the report.
Adelson concludes that his party switch is one that "my old immigrant Jewish neighbors would have made."
Interestingly, one issue that Adelson does not really broach in the article is his well known antipathy toward unions. (There is only a single passing negative reference to public employee unions in a passage he quotes from another writer.)
Adelson and his casino company have waged high-profile battles with unions in Nevada. Journalist Rick Perlstein — no fan of Adelson — wrote in Rolling Stone that the billionaire’s opposition to unions "is the most important thing to know about him."
Granted, it likely would have been difficult for Adelson to include an anti-union argument in this particular article. After all, Adelson is arguing that the Democrats have changed and that his views reflect the values with which he was raised. But the alliance between organized labor and the Democratic Party is longstanding, and many Jewish immigrants historically have had strong sympathies for unions.