(by Chaskel Bennett)
Imagine if an Orthodox Jew would be denied entry to the polls on election day? The outcry would be swift and overwhelming. Charges of antisemitism and bigotry would ring across social media and would be rightfully condemned by everyone.
Like it or not, Orthodox Jews are doing this to themselves by registering as Republicans in New York City and disqualifying themselves from voting in the Democratic primaries.
Today, the big political battle in New York is no longer between Democrats and Republicans. Instead it is the fight between the moderate and progressive wings of the Democratic party.
Unfortunately, many members of our community have precluded themselves from having an impact on that fight. That is because they have registered as Republicans and are therefore unable to participate in the Democratic primary.
That is a terrible mistake with grave consequences.
The Queens District Attorney race will likely be decided by about 1,000 votes. The race came down to the current Queens Boro President, Melinda Katz, who is more moderate and has a long time relationship with our community, and Tiffany Caban, a radical leftist whose platform consisted of identifying crimes she would no longer prosecute as DA.
The choice for the frum community was clear. But many were unable to make that choice, because as registered Republicans they were unable to vote in the Democratic primary. My own family included.
This is a clear and present danger to our future in New York because New York is a Democratic town. Every single statewide and citywide elected official is a Democrat, both houses of the State legislature are controlled by Democrats, as is our entire Congressional delegation. These are facts. Don’t shoot the messenger.
In fact, in New York City Democrats have a 7 to 1 enrollment edge over Republicans and in Brooklyn it’s an overwhelming and insurmountable 9-1 ratio. That means that in most local elections, the Democratic primary determines the election. If the frum community sits out the primary, it will have no ability to impact the political process. It is as simple as that.
It is surely true that many Republicans reflect more of the frum community’s values, and that is not something I easily discount.
But the point of this is not to argue that you ought to support Democrats over Republicans. You can always vote for the Republican over the Democrat in the general election if you’d like, no matter which party you are registered with. But we need to ensure that the more moderate Democrats have support within their party and are not driven out by the radicals. This will manifest itself in 2021 when the next NYC Mayoral race will commence. There is no doubt that the far left Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez wing of the Democratic party is gaining strength and is now in the driver’s seat. The Caban victory has emboldened them and every moderate/ centrist Democrat is now in their sights. Trust me, our congressional friends like Elliot Engel and Grace Meng and others are watching this all unfold with the same concern we are.
We need a very strong voice in the battle for the soul of the Democratic party. Right now we have disqualified ourselves and can’t bring the full strength of our community to the table because we don’t vote and many who do are registered as Republicans. If all the important action is taking place in the Democratic primaries we need a ticket to play in that game.
By disqualifying yourself from participating in the primary, Orthodox Jews are empowering the radicals and undermining the moderates.
Many people do not want to identify with the Democratic party, whose values on social issues do not comport with our own. However, political party registration does not define us. It is simply a practical tool that permits us to have a voice in the political process – to ensure that our issues are dealt with, our concerns are addressed and our priorities are advanced. Given the worrisome direction New York is headed in, we need to use all the tools we can get. Don’t wait, clink this link and change your registration right now.
Chaskel Bennett is co-founder of the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition. Follow @Chaskelbennett
NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.
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