Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Thoughts on Frum Politicians

Don't know why, but this all came to mind tonight.

a) I happen to love following politics. Politics is a game sorta, it's kinda like following baseball; except, if your team loses, it really affects you. It ain't "just a game." Part of me would love to get involved, run for office, make a difference, have an opportunity to voice my opinions, etc. But, like I said, politics is a game. Politics is about being pareve, trying to please everybody, and generally invloves lots of lying and flip-flopping. Honest politicians just don't make it. So, as a frum person trying to be as ethical and righteous as possible (in which case, why the hell am I going to law school?), politics just isn't my future.

b) Basically, I find it very difficult for any frum person to get involved in politics. Aside from all the lying, etc. there's a big opportunity for causing chilul Hashem, perhaps moreso than in any other job out there. Unfortunately, there are just too many incidents that come to mind. Whether it's Shelly Silver getting ripped by the Post for increasing spending and taxes, Dov Hikind fighting with my all-time favorite Rudy Giuliani, or Joe Lieberman flip-flopping (and in this year's primaries, just plain flopping) in the true liberal spirit, it just isn't pretty.

c) I used to like Noach Dear, but after the whole fiasco earlier this year where he tried running for city council again, something that sounded shady to begin with and, after going down in court, ended up making him look foolish, he lost a few points in my book. But the real kicker was when he took the 'c' out of his name and became "Noah Dear" in his campaign for State Senator. Now you know why those campaign signs on Avenue J don't have his first name. My beef with that is, talk about selling out! Firstly, I don't see that helping him all that much. Secondly, where's the frum pride!? I don't have a problem with "Joseph" Lieberman, because he never attempted to do the whole pride thing. If his shittoh is to use his English name, I can hear that. But what happened to Dear? He changed his shittoh? He flip-flopped? Spent too much time on Jewish Musings? Weird.

And his supporting ultra-liberal Mark Green (have you seen his new Bush-bashing book?) in '01 was simply inexcusable. I don't care if he went to shul in Long Island when he was a kid. Then again, if Ferrer would've won, he'd probably be mayor. Still, sometimes I just can't vote.

d) One guy whom I'd have love to have seen make it: Yehuda (Lew) Levin. (Just in case you're wondering, my buddy Joey Levin is NOT related). Levin shares many of my views, and is clearly a guy with principles, which is probably why he never made it. Even in the past year, he has done good work in attending a rally for Judge Roy Moore (the guy who wanted to keep the Ten Commandments monument in an Alabama courthouse) and speaking at an anti-abortion rally. He took some flak for supporting Pat Buchanan in '96 (which is understandable, considering Buchanan's anti-Israel bias), but at least Buchanan supports our country's language, borders, and culture, something many conservatives have been too pareve about. Levin deserved a better fate.

e) My favorite current Frum politician: Simcha Felder. Felder has done an excellent job in not making a chilul Hashem or tarnishing the frum image. He gave us suspended alternate side parking on Purim, and spoke out against gay marriage, one of the few politicians in New York to do so. He has steadfastly supported Mayor Bloomberg (whom I'm a big fan of, but that's for a different time), even accompanying him on his trip to Israel. Whoever put up those messages around Brooklyn-- "vote Felder for tax increases"-- is just a fool. Find me a candidate in New York who's against taxes. Would any other Democrat (the only ones who generally win around here) actually lower our taxes?

f) Whatever happened to Samuel Spirgel? The guy tanked faster than Howard Dean, and that was even without screaming like a maniac.

g) One more about frum people and politics: the Agudah honoring enviro-mentalist/ internet-inventor Al Gore at a dinner a few years back was awful. A guy like that, with his shittos? Come on. Who's it gonna be this year? Ralph Nader?

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