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author biography
Mark Gold does volunteer work on behalf of U.S. national security and Israel.
He is retired from a career in the transportation industry and lives in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC.

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Who will leave the Democrats first: Blacks or Jews?
Filed under Jewish history & culture, Jewish diaspora, Opinion Editorials, USA foreign policy, US elections – on Monday, February 18, 2008 – By: Gold, Mark

In the midst of this primary season in the United States, given the leading positions of a woman and an African-American candidate, the voting patterns of segments of the American electorate are of even more than their usual interest. 
Of course, the affinity of two of those segments, blacks and Jews, to vote overwhelmingly Democrat is well known and well documented. But their reasons for doing so are different, and as their interests evolve over time, and as the political parties evolve, their voting patterns would be expected to change. Indeed, black Americans’ have already changed once: blacks used to vote predominately Republican, but for a number of reasons that changed in the mid-twentieth century. But particularly with Barack Obama’s  Democratic candidacy this year, no change in blacks’ political allegiance is imminent — unless, possibly, Obama is abruptly snubbed by his party.
Both groups, Jews and blacks, are now bound to the Democrats by tradition. It has been claimed that people change their spouses more often than their political parties, and it certainly appears that the tradition issue is a powerful factor in the Jews’ and blacks’ allegiance to the Democrats.
The conventional wisdom among blacks and Democrats is that the Democrats are better for blacks because of the party’s professed emphasis on social programs to benefit the lower economic classes at the expense of higher taxes on the upper classes. Blacks have been disproportionately represented in the lower economic classes, but that decreasingly true – the racial gap is closing.

Republicans and conservatives assert that, in fact, their policies better benefit the lower economic classes, including blacks, and all Americans, by providing the means and incentives for individuals to succeed on their own, and creating more wealth and prosperity for the society as a whole.
Some prominent blacks ascribe to this philosophy, although they are obviously a minority. They include such public figures as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, political figures Colin Powell and Alan Keyes, economist Walter Williams, and talk show host Larry Elder.
Jews, on the other hand, are more represented in the upper economic classes, yet still vote Democrat virtually on a par with blacks, essentially against their economic interests. That is the basis for the old saying, “Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans,” and the concept remains essentially valid decades after the saying was coined.
Of course, the vast majority of Jewish immigrants to the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were exceedingly poor. Thus their Democratic affiliation may have made sense at that time. However, their emphasis on education, enterpreneurship, and entry into the professions has resulted in a great American success story. This, in turn, has resulted in the rise of many of them to economic success in this country.
But they still vote overwhelmingly Democrat. A minority can be found among prominent Republicans and conservatives in government and politics, as well as other fields.
In addition to the tradition issue, Jews’ allegiance to the Democrats stems from their liberal/left wing views, particularly on social issues, such as abortion and concern for the poor.
Although some Jews have a concern for the well being of Israel, many do not, and the number who do is probably decreasing. And among many of those who do care about Israel, their level of concern is not great. But, given those limitations, the dissonance between the positions of those Jews who do care about Israel and the Democrat party is increasing significantly.
The Democrats have become a haven for the anti-Israel sentiment prominent among the left wing, and at least some Jews realize that the Democrats’ philosophy of a more flaccid projection of U.S. power internationally may gravely redound to the detriment of Israel, if not the United States, too.
So, who will leave the Democrats first: Blacks or Jews? Although many in both groups have good reason to, a rational outside observer would probably conclude that the Jews have more reason to.
But it’s still a toss-up. Increasing numbers of blacks may realize over time that the Democrats don’t serve their group or individual interests; most Jews may already realize that the party does not serve theirs in any tangible way, but their Democrat affiliation serves them on a psychological level, as they see themselves as on “the right side,” or with the party that “does good.”
Perhaps a movement away from the Democrats in either or both of these groups will be precipitated by a charismatic, influential leader, who will get a metaphorical snowball rolling and a critical mass created that questions the conventional wisdom and past practice.
Because blacks have more far group cohesion than do Jews, and leadership is more narrowly concentrated in the black community than among Jews, this chain of events is probably more likely to evolve in the black community.
However, such an eventuality will be delayed — while the emergence of Obama indeed shows the power of a “charismatic, influential leader” (and also illustrating blacks’ group cohesion), he has emerged on the Democratic side. So for now, he will only increase blacks’ Democratic allegiance, except possibly in the case that he is snubbed and denied the nomination.
Nonetheless, can we ask “when,” not “if” a political realignment of black or Jewish voters, or both, will occur? 
The opinions and views articulated by the author do not necessarily reflect those of Israel e News. | Digg | Newsvine | NowPublic | reddit | Tailrank | Technorati |

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