Obama addresses a joint session of Congress 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Jim Bourg)
Last week’s Jewish Standard cover story focused on the growing GOP challenge to
the once impregnable Democratic fortress to North Jersey. It turns out that it’s
not just the Arabs who are having their spring. Here in the United States
Americans are calling their government to account like never before and throwing
out entrenched, machine politicians with a spending addiction.
JFK airport early this morning for a flight to Los Angeles I discovered that the
cost to cross the George Washington Bridge had jumped from $8 to $12. The
decision was made by the Port Authority without any input from the citizenry.
The Triboro Bridge was then another $6.50 to cross, and these in two states –
New Jersey and New York – which both have nearly ten percent income tax (on top
of the approximate 35% Federal income tax), large sales tax, and the highest
property taxes in the nation. Apparently none of these taxes cover the
maintenance of an old bridge for which you have to pay exorbitant fees that keep
on skyrocketing up.
You begin to understand why Americans are so fed up
with their inept government and out-of-control bureaucrats who, no matter the
trillions they raise in taxes, still have never enough.
I have never seen
a time like this in the United States where the populace is so angry with their
government and Jews so disillusioned with the Democratic party. Congress has an
approval rating in the low teens and President Obama, who just three years ago
was christened the American messiah, has become so irrelevant that his address
to a joint session of Congress on his jobs bill had to be delivered outside of
prime time because Americans preferred to watch football instead. And why listen
when nearly every speech he delivers on saving the economy involves his
predictable remedy of spending tens of billions more with no palpable
Among Jews his poll numbers have fallen to a once-unimaginable
The shockwaves generated by Bob Turner’s win in New York’s Ninth
district, which hasn’t had a Republican Congressman since the 1920’s, are waking
both parties up to the fiscal accountability Americans are demanding of their
governments. Families are struggling.
Jobs are scarce. Parents are
wrestling to put food on the table. And still our elected leaders spend and
waste our hard-earned cash.
What is at stake is the rugged individualism
upon which America was founded and through which it has prospered. America is a
compassionate society that has built strong safety nets to care for those in
need. But this was never meant to be a first option, only a last resort. At the
core of American values is the dignity of the human person and the knowledge
that people do not want to be supported by anyone but themselves.
desire innately to produce more than they consume, to live lives that are a
blessing rather than a burden to others. It’s the first lesson that responsible
parents teach their children. Make your own bed. Clean your own room. Do your
homework and ask for assistance only when necessary. Get a part-time job even as
a student so as to assist the family with paying tuition. And it is this basic
premise that voters are committed to firmly reestablishing on a national level
before the country goes bankrupt with entitlement programs run amok..
seems incredible that President Obama still doesn’t get the message, speaking
instead about renewing school buildings for billions of dollars, as if shiny new
paint is an adequate substitute for teaching young Americans the value of
self-reliance and living within your means.
The righteous anger of the
American voter is causing career politicians who have sat in safe seats for
sixteen years to quake in their boots.
When I moved back to the United
States after living in England for more than a decade, I settled into the town
of Englewood, New Jersey, and simply got used to paying tens of thousands of
dollars a year in property taxes for poor services and potholes in streets
outside my house that made a casual drive something akin to a lunar module
traversing pock-mocked craters. I submitted, as did so many citizens, to the
bullying of bureaucrats who issued citations over the wrong kind of garbage left
in bags and even threatened arrest warrants if too large a vehicle was parked in
But the times they are a changin’. There is a backlash in our
city – still inadequate but a backlash nonetheless – against the sky-high taxes
that keep on rising every year. More citizens than ever are challenging their
assessed property values as they struggle to keep up with their impossibly high
Since about 1982 the City of Englewood has not even challenged the
Libyan- Gaddafi compound’s right to be exempt from property tax. Overtaxed
citizens were required to pay for the Libyans’ police protection and trash
removal, even as Gaddafi embarked on a program of bombing airliners and killing
American servicemen in discotheques in Berlin. But the silence of the citizens
is dissipating in favor of outrage and pressure is finally being put on our
elected council to force the Libyans to pay their fair share, especially since
they already enjoy an exemption on their ambassadorial residence in Manhattan.
No New Jersey citizen should be expected to finance in whatever measure a
terror-sponsoring government in its midst and it is an absolute disgrace that
successive Englewood elected leaders have required their citizens to pay taxes
that supported Gaddafi.
Gaddafi may now be out of power, but where is the
outrage against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad traveling to the United States yet again
this week to peddle his Jew-hatred, threats of Israel’s extinction and insipid
theories of American collusion in the attacks of 9/11. Who gave this man a visa?
In August, President Obama signed a presidential order barring entry to the
United States for individuals "who organize or participate in war crimes, crimes
against humanity, and serious violations of human rights." The initiative was
championed by the president’s chief advisor on human rights, Samantha Power, the
world’s foremost voice against genocide and a woman for whom I have enormous
respect. It was she who was largely credited for American action against
Gaddafi. But then why is Ahmadinejad, who calls for Israel’s obliteration and
mowed down his own people in June 2009 when they rose against him in the streets
of Teheran, permitted to come to our shores? And how sad that NBC News sanitized
this killer with their “day-in-the-life” puff piece that portrayed a man
threatening a second holocaust as a caring leader dedicated to Iran’s poor, when
in reality he has unleashed his thugs to murder and brutalize those in Iran
whose only crime is seeking the right to stand up to their fraudulently elected
Thankfully, in the United States we can thunder against our
government without fear of being shot in the head. And it is a right we should
continue to exercise until we toss out all the tone-deaf politicians who year
after year get a free ride.Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s new book,
Conversations You Need to Have with Yourself will be published later this month,
Kosher Jesus. He is the founder of This World: The Values Network.
Follow him Twitter @RabbiShmuley