Yes, you read that right. It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally come around. Republican presidential contender Donald Trump has won me over.
And come November, if he’s still in the race (and if this election year has taught us anything, it’s that nothing is mandated from heaven), he’ll have my vote.
He says he’s the most pro-Israel candidate and I believe him.
Why shouldn’t I? At last week’s AIPAC Policy Conference, he uttered all the right things, pushed all the right buttons.
In less than 30 minutes, he won over many if not most of the 18,000 attendees, who gave him one standing ovation after another, to growing and enthusiastic applause. AIPAC was worried the audience might protest Trump, that they’d walk out or boo or demonstrate.
If anyone did, they were in the minority, drowned out by a seeming sea of support.
If AIPAC – which was supposed to be Trump’s toughest room – can fall in love with the guy, who am I to argue? “I’m a newcomer to politics but not to backing the Jewish state,” Trump proclaimed. “I’m a lifelong supporter and true friend of Israel. When I’m president, [I will] totally dismantle Iran’s global terror network. I’ll move the American Embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem, [to] send a clear signal that there is no daylight between America and our most reliable ally. The days of treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end.”
Well, I’m ready to be treated like a firstclass citizen again, to be welcomed into the warm embrace of a Trump White House. Do I agree with everything he says? Certainly not. His views on Muslims and Mexicans are abhorrent.
But on Israel, the only issue that should matter to any self-respecting Zionist – and especially to immigrants to the Holy Land like us who still can vote in the US elections – well, whom are you going to pick? Hillary Clinton, who accepts emails from that fanatical BDS supporter Max Blumenthal, who once had the gall to say that Israel displays a “lack of empathy” toward the Palestinians? Nope, check me into the Trump Tower and send me up some room service pronto, please.
Trump’s meteoric rise isn’t all that surprising. He’s the quintessential outsider, and Americans love their outsider candidates. The idea that someone who is not a Washington crony can turn the country around is a trope that’s won the vote repeatedly over the past 150 years, ever since Abraham Lincoln emphasized his working-class roots as “The Railsplitter” candidate in 1860. Ulysses S. Grant’s campaign in 1872 portrayed him as a rough and tumble tanner and his running mate, Henry Wilson, as a shoemaker, hardly Beltway regulars.
More recently, the US saw outsider peanut farmer Jimmy Carter beat insider (and Nixon pardoner) Gerald Ford, only to be unseated by another outsider, Ronald Reagan. As the first African- American president, Barack Obama could certainly claim the mantle of the outsider par excellence. Even Clinton, who may have spent more years in Washington than the other candidates combined, portrays herself as a fresh face from far away. After all, as she told CBS News’ Face the Nation, “I cannot imagine anyone being more of an outsider than the first woman president.”
Outsider popularity is not limited to the US. Even in Israel, despite the fact that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been in power for 10 years now and you’d think we davka love our insiders, we repeatedly flirt if not go steady with the outsiders who come knocking at the door. Think: Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid in 2013, Moshe Kahlon and his Kulanu party in 2015 or Yitzhak Mordechai’s Center party all the way back in 1999.
We desperately want to believe that someone new and untainted, a genuine independent and freethinker, will be able to shake things up and fix our problems.
Israel and the Palestinians have been at each other’s throats for so long, maybe a fresh approach is required.
How about hiring a professional negotiator who can knock our sparring leaders’ heads together like it’s a real-estate deal or a reality show? Oh, that’s the president? Even better. Bibi and Abbas can’t deliver? “You’re fired!”
I see it in my personal life, too. I have this recurring fantasy that one day I’ll lose all my clients at the same time. Faced with no income and mounting bills, I’ll be forced to think out of the box, to reinvent myself into something entirely new that will finally bring me the fabulous wealth and well-being I’ve sought for so long.
Maybe that would work in politics as well, or so the thinking goes. We’ve already sunk so low that only an oxygen- deprived descent to the very bottom of the geopolitical ocean can rouse us out of the numbing complacency that has sapped us of our ability to dream of a better future – a Trump future.
Chemi Shalev thinks a Trump presidency could even have unintended benefits for Israel. Writing in Haaretz, Shalev presents an alternative future where a Trump win in November leads to a mass exodus of liberal Jews from the US. They first try to move to Canada but are stymied when they learn that becoming a citizen takes at least four years.
They turn instead to Israel, where Shalev envisions 50,000 American Jews eventually immigrating under the Law of Return, settling mainly in the center of the country, where they “breathe new life into Israel’s moribund Left” and go about “rebuilding liberal NGOs and government watchdogs,” ultimately influencing the 2019 elections and overthrowing the Likud.
Shalev’s narrative may not come to be, but can there be any doubt that Trump will be good for Israel and tough on terrorism? And if anyone can kick President Bashar Assad out of Syria, force Islamic State to its knees and compel the Iranians to repaint their missiles with the lyrics to a song from Dana International, it will be The Donald.
Look, I’m still realistic – a Trump presidency may not be as glorious as I hope, but it certainly can’t be as bad as the doomsayers pontificate.
At least that’s what I tell myself, until I bolt up in bed in the middle of the night and a flood of Trump’s misogynist and racist rants rains down on me, threatening to drown my waking consciousness in its own vile apologies until I repent, Democratic ballot clutched firmly in hand, and turn away with assured finality from this hateful outsider who wooed me with empty promises that change – any change – is always for the better.
The author is a freelance writer who specializes in technology, start-ups and the entrepreneurs behind them. More at www.bluminteractivemedia.com.