Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Winner Aviation in Youngstown, Ohio March 14, 2016.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In January 2013, three weeks before the Knesset elections in Israel, I wrote a column explaining why voting is imperative, even when the political pickings are slim. I was talking about the Jewish state, where I live, not the United States, my country of origin, though the latter was just about to inaugurate President Barack Obama for a second term. Indeed, twice in a row, Israeli and US elections virtually coincided.
This time around, America is on its own. Still, Israelis are following the events of the current campaign in the US with great interest, puzzled by the phenomenon known as Donald Trump. Americans, too, are perplexed by the explosion on the scene of the real estate magnate/ reality TV star who has defied all odds and many polls, leading to the sense that he might actually win in November.
Naturally, the Democrats have been shuddering at the prospect of what they keep telling themselves is a mathematical impossibility, repeating, mantra-like, that he “will never get the women or African-Americans” to support him. Those who cannot abide Trump’s presumptive contender, Hillary Clinton, have been turning out in droves to champion her internal rival, Bernie Sanders.
Nothing earth-shattering there, other than the unexpected emergence of Sanders and the almost amusing popularity the 74-year-old Jewish socialist has gained among the young.
It is the Republicans’ response to Trump, however, that is worthy of note. Given how profound their antipathy to his behavior and unclear ideology has been, it is amazing that “The Donald” made it past the first debate, let alone beat out 16 other contenders, most of them seasoned politicians – all of them far more genteel.
Nor are his detractors restricted to Republican Party insiders, who feel slighted and shocked. Conservative intellectuals, too, have been in a frenzy over Trump for a slew of reasons. These they list regularly, each time adding new and often persuasive arguments against him. Their battle made political sense while there was still a possibility he would be defeated in the primary race. But now that it is clear that the ultimate choice will be between him and Clinton, their protestations are peculiar.
True, a couple of prominent neoconservatives have stated openly that they will support Clinton, and some others still fantasize about fielding a new candidate before the Republican convention in July. But the rest of the anti-Trumpers on the Right are in a quandary. One such person told me he was simply not going to vote.
Apparently, he is not alone.
But, as I explained to fellow Israelis expressing similar malaise three years ago, staying home on Election Day is tantamount to squandering a right that people have lost their lives fighting for. It is a privilege that must never be taken for granted, as it constitutes an internal assertion of our power as individuals, and an external reminder that we are among the world’s lucky few whose rulers are our subordinates.
In democratic countries like the United States and Israel, citizens are able to cast their ballots without fear of physical intimidation or imprisonment. The worst that can happen to any of us on November 4 is disappointment with the outcome, no matter what it is. The subsequent ills that befall the country and the world as a result of that outcome may be disastrous. After eight years of a Barack Obama presidency, however, it will at least be familiar.The writer is the managing editor of The Algemeiner and a columnist at Israel Hayom.