The Jewish vote really does matter. In case you weren’t convinced before, all you had to do was witness the final presidential debate, when both President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney raced to outdo the other with their declared love for Israel and concern for its security.
While all this attention might be a bit disconcerting and even confounding, it is, in fact, a good thing. It reassures American Jews that Israel remains a critical ally and a major foreign policy concern — and a bipartisan one at that.
However, most Jews are not single-issue voters. Which is why we’ve been paying close attention to all the issues that will affect our community, our nation and our world for the next four years — and beyond.
As the seemingly endless campaign season winds down, we have much to assess. As evidenced by the articles, op-eds and letters in these pages and elsewhere, the debate in the Jewish community over whom to support for president has been vociferous at best, brutal at worst. We all know that much is at stake, and as is typical of Jews everywhere, we have no qualms articulating our passions and our positions in no uncertain terms.
There are those in our midst who believe Obama has been the worst president for Israel and those who believe he has been the best. There are those who believe Gov. Romney has the formula for a brighter economic future and those who think he will lead us back to the near-Depression era that Obama inherited when he took office four years ago. Some among us think that issues such as the social safety net, abortion rights, gay rights and who will land on the U.S. Supreme Court are as important as the economy and Israel, while others don’t even consider such matters when casting their ballot.
Because the Jewish Exponent represents the entire Jewish community, the paper has a longstanding policy not to endorse any candidates, so we will not be trying to influence your vote. In truth, most of us made up our minds long ago. Yet even as Pennsylvania seemed to lose its swing state status awhile back — and with it the campaigns’ time, money and attention that we as a state and as a community had become accustomed to — we continued to engage disproportionately in the political process, with Jewish financiers and activists prominent in both parties’ campaigns.
Whoever is elected to serve the highest office in the land, he will be forced to tackle head on the many domestic and foreign challenges this country faces. We will continue to make our views known. But first, it is up to each one of us to go out and vote.