I feel compelled to strongly disagree with Avraham Weissman’s opinion article, “Rethinking Our Priorities” (November 8, 2018), wherein he backhandedly tries to make an argument — to those who vote on moral principle — in favor of voting for Democrats. In a nutshell, he says that even most Republicans on the ticket (at least in New York) also have reprehensible views on some of the important moral issues. Thus (of course, putting in the caveat that Torah authorities should be asked), Mr. Weissman proposes perhaps rethinking the ideal of voting for Republicans because, even though traditionally they have had less-reprehensible views on many moral issues, today in many instances this is not the case.
His argument is deeply flawed.
The reason why even Republicans — especially in deep-blue states like New York — have sadly taken up these warped moral views was because the intolerance and totalitarian nature of the Left in this country has become so powerful that it has muzzled any opposition. Those who have the chutzpah to disagree are deemed racists and worse.
The goalposts, or the pendulum, have moved alarmingly so far to the left as a result of that intolerance and totalitarianism that even some Republicans feel that they have no choice but to walk in lockstep.
If we frum Jews vote for the Democrats that have largely aligned themselves with the Left, they will go on to the next frontier. Redefinition of marriage will look like child’s play in comparison with the next aberrations that are on the agenda.
So yes, we should be saddened that even many Republicans have felt, that for political expediency, they have no choice but to support those reprehensible morals that have become in vogue today, or otherwise they will labeled as ugly racists.
If caring members of our tzibbur want to make sure that the next moral aberration will be foisted upon us against their will, they should follow Mr. Weissman’s advice.
We must be bocher es hara b’miyuto — choose the lesser of the moral evils.
Avraham Weissman responds:
I am very grateful to Rabbi Birnbaum for taking the time to write. However, he misunderstood the point I was trying to make, and I fear that if he did, so did other readers.
My point was not that one should vote for the more liberal candidate. In fact, I personally chose to write-in a protest candidate instead. Rather, what I was trying to say — and I apologize if it wasn’t clear — was that according to the views of the Gedolim who ruled that it is prohibited to vote for those candidates who have liberal views on moral issues, being bocher es hara b’miyuto may no longer be a feasible option in today’s society. For instance, is one ever permitted to vote for a candidate who supports legislation legalizing assisted-suicide? If not, the fact that his or her opponent may be even worse on other moral issues would not change that fact.
Ultimately this is a decision for daas Torah, and not for opinion writers to make. However, one thing is clear: Any assumption that candidates running on a GOP or even a Conservative line share our views on moral values is inaccurate, and as a tzibbur we must educate ourselves as to what their positions and values are so that we can present those facts to our spiritual mentors for guidance.