Finally, we are now less than one week out from Election Day. Three presidential debates and countless campaign rallies later, both candidates have had a chance to make their case to Jewish voters. So with all the evidence in hand to make an informed choice on Election Day, it is no surprise that for most Jewish voters, the candidate they will choose to lead the country for the next four years is the man who has represented them for the last four - President Barack Obama.
Since the New Deal, American Jews have consistently supported Democratic candidates. This November, we can expect a similar level of support, and with good reason. The president has demonstrated time and time again that his values and policies are aligned with those of the Jewish community.
One of those values is pursuing social justice, and President Obama’s work for a fairer, more equitable society is unprecedented. He has been a champion for women, seniors, students and the LGBT community as few others have. The very first law he signed as president, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, was a major step forward in the fight to end gender discrimination in the workplace. He has ensured that our seniors can retire in health and security by defending against Republican attempts to dismantle the social safety net. And not only did he end the anti-LGBT military policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but he is also the first president to openly support marriage equality.
Another of the most prominent Jewish values to appear in President Obama’s policies is bikur cholim - to help the sick. He has done this through the passage of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). Already, children with pre-existing conditions are now able to get the care they need, and by the time the law is fully implemented, an additional 20 million Americans will have access to affordable health insurance. Jewish tradition teaches that it is a mitzvah to come to the aid of the ill, and that is precisely what the president has done with Obamacare.
President Obama has also proven himself to be second to none when it comes to security assistance for Israel. Despite what Mitt Romney and the Republicans have claimed, no one has done more for Israel’s security and legitimacy than Barack Obama. In the final debate, the president called our bond with Israel “unbreakable” and pledged full support for Israel if it is ever attacked. He has increased military aid to Israel dramatically, including funding for the Iron Dome, one of the most technologically advanced missile defense systems in history. This month, U.S. and Israeli forces conducted a major joint military exercise, the second such exercise during President Obama’s presidency and the largest of its kind ever.
Further, this president has taken an extremely tough stance against Iran, building an unparalleled international coalition to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran through the imposition of devastating sanctions - sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy and will likely do even more damage in the coming weeks and months. Israeli officials have praised President Obama for his leadership in this area. It is clear that the relationship between the U.S. and Israel is as strong as ever.
While Republicans continue to smear the President’s stellar record on Israel and other foreign policy issues, their candidate offered little more than a “me too” style of foreign policy by agreeing with the majority of what the president said during the most recent debate.
But while Romney might not have many specific foreign policy ideas, he certainly has domestic policy plans - plans that would wipe away all of the progress that has been made in the last four years and replace it with infringements on women’s rights, vouchers in place of Medicare, more tax cuts for the wealthy and a repeal of Obamacare. As the president himself said in the last debate, Romney wants to “import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s.”
The president has made clear his intent to move America forward, while Romney seems insistent that America go back in time. For most American Jews, backward is not an option. Because of this, the vast majority of American Jews will be supporting President Obama.
David A. Harris is the President and CEO of NJDC
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