By Jill Zipin
In 1980, Gov. Ronald Reagan stood across from President Jimmy Carter and asked Americans, “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” As I contemplate that question in terms of 2020, I can’t help but think that the soon-to-be President Reagan would be appalled by the state of the party he once led and by its president and standard bearer today.
The Republican Party is one consumed by intolerance and injustice and has created the highest deficits in American history while fumbling from crisis to crisis. The party of Lincoln, as Republicans are fond of reminding us, is now led by a commander-in-chief who creates policy 280 characters at a time and refers to respected statesmen by childish nicknames. President Donald Trump has left our country sicker, poorer and more divided than ever. And we, as American Jews, feel the brunt of so much of this.
We need a leader who is committed to leading. A leader who is committed not just to ending the pandemic’s grip on us and restoring the American economy, but also committed to restoring decency, honesty and compassion to our nation. That’s why I’ve cast my ballot for former Vice President Joe Biden.
We are a nation torn asunder by the deepest political divisions since the Civil War. We need a president who knows that there is more that unites us than divides us. We need a president who knows we are better when we lift each other up instead of tear each other down. Biden will heal the nation’s wounds and bring us together. A united America is good for Jewish security, and good for the security of all Americans.
Joe Biden is a mensch. He and Sen. Kamala Harris will champion a government for which we yearn — one of responsible leadership, respect for all Americans, justice and compassion. They will restore the soul of our nation and preserve our democracy, and it is in democracy that we as Jews thrive best. Make no mistake about it, in this election, the most important election of our lifetimes, it is democracy itself that is on the ballot.
Biden will meet the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic with healing and truth. Biden values science and listens to experts. He will ensure that all those with preexisting conditions receive the medical care that they deserve. He will grow and expand the Affordable Care Act so no American goes without health care.
He will address systemic racism with empathy, repair a battered economy, protect Social Security and Medicare and deal with climate change to secure our planet’s future for our children and grandchildren. He will work with Congress to repair a broken immigration system, knowing that the United States is a beacon of hope and freedom to those who seek a better life for themselves and their children. Women will not be denied control of their own bodies, as Biden knows whether to bear a child is a woman’s decision not a governmental one.
Biden will not wink at white supremacists and anti-Semites. He will not see “very fine people” in torch-carrying mobs chanting anti-Semitic, racist, sexist and homophobic slogans. We will not have a president who is unable, when asked during a presidential debate, to renounce white nationalists or the Proud Boys, a group the Anti-Defamation League describes as extremist, some of whose members endorse white supremacist and anti-Semitic ideologies.
Biden — who decided to enter the presidential race because of Trump’s outrageous Charlottesville comments — for over 40 years in public life has unequivocally condemned hatred against Jews regardless of the source. He has not hesitated to take on those on the left whose modern form of anti-Semitism takes the form of rejecting Israel’s legitimacy as the nation state of the Jewish people.
Biden is a longtime friend of Israel. He will follow policies that guarantee the security of the Jewish state — based on his convictions, not political expediency. Biden has a long record of support for Israel and his commitment to protect Israel’s security and strengthen our two nations’ partnership is deeply personal and unshakable.
As vice president, Biden helped ensure unwavering support for Israel’s security. As Sen. Harris said during a virtual fundraiser in August covered by Jewish Insider: “During the Obama-Biden administration, he was a key advocate in securing support for lifesaving technologies [like the] Iron Dome, David’s Sling, The Arrow — three anti-rocket and missile defense systems. And Joe has also helped shape the unprecedented $38 billion-a-year memorandum of understanding for defense assistance to Israel that was signed in 2016 … the largest military aid package in U.S. history.”
Biden recognizes the threat posed by Iran, not just to Israel but to our other allies in the Middle East. He has stated unequivocally that Iran should never be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. Against the strong objections of our closest allies, Trump pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear deal, and, now, Iran is closer to achieving nuclear weapons capability.
Not only will Biden be a good friend to Israel but he, as well, will restore America’s leadership around the world. At present our standing in the international community, most importantly, with our Western European allies and NATO, is at the lowest point it has ever been.
Our international alliances make our nation not only stronger, but safer. Biden, who understands the significance of these relationships, will always stand by our allies — not betray them to dictators and potentates who do not reflect or support our American values or our Jewish values.
We are at an inflection point in our nation’s history and we have a choice to make. Do we maintain and protect our democratic institutions, or do we allow ourselves to slide into autocracy? The choice is clear. The only thing standing between us and autocracy is Joe Biden. We, at Democratic Jewish Outreach Pennsylvania, urge you to vote for Joe Biden for our children, for our grandchildren and for our nation. l
Jill Zipin is the chair of Democratic Jewish Outreach Pennsylvania.