[The following is by David E. Harris, President and CEO, National Jewish Democratic Council]
In the last two weeks, the Republican Party has demonstrated that it is simply out of touch with the majority of American Jews. First, its standard bearer selected a running mate who has been criticized by the Jewish community for his plans to end Medicare as we know it and gut the social safety net. Then, its 2012 official party platform took policy stands that are the opposite of those held by most Jews. When you add on RNC Platform Chair Gov. Bob McDonnell mixing up former President Ronald Reagan with Rabbi Hillel – well, the GOP has proven that there isn’t much room in their tent for most Jews.
But if that weren’t enough proof of the wide chasm separating the Republican Party from most American Jews, two of their representatives emerged in recent days as poster children for why Jewish voters do not trust or support the GOP. Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) made his outrageously offensive statements on rape – the policies of which are now enshrined in the GOP’s official platform. Akin then bucked party leadership – including Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan – to remain a candidate for the Missouri Senate seat. And, according to a news report broken by POLITICO, Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) and several of his colleagues took a less-than-kosher nighttime dip in the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) during their Israel trip last summer – behavior that reportedly enraged House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in Congress.
As Americans begin to tune back in to politics in the coming weeks, they’re going to see a Republican Party that is more extreme than the one they last saw two and four years ago. To put it plainly, the GOP of 2012 will help reinforce why most American Jews will be backing President Obama.
[David A. Harris serves as the President and CEO of the National Jewish Democratic Council. David previously worked as NJDC's deputy executive director for seven years, and as the executive director of the Israel on Campus Coalition for three years. David has also served as the director of governmmental and public affairs for the American Jewish Congress and as the Washington representative for the Israel Policy Forum; in Democratic politics, David was a congressional fellow for the late Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.) and a congressional campaign manager as well. David is a native of West Lafayette, Ind., and now lives in Washington, DC with his wife, Megan.]