Democrats Cultivate Fear, Anti-Evangelical Hostility, To Drive Jewish Vote
While a perfect storm allowed Republicans to capture NY-9, possibly the most Jewish congressional district in the country, further progress in gaining Jewish support for GOP candidates will require confronting very different mechanisms than simply emphasizing support for Israel.
As best explained in the book Partisan Hearts and Minds, members of both parties have similar stereotypes about what sort of people are in each party, and tend to support the party they associate with “people like them.”
Jews identify as religious minorities and with minorities in general, and as such support the party they associate with minorities. Despite Americans consistently expressing similar levels of favorability towards Jews as Protestants and Catholics, Jews still largely think like oppressed minorities.
This is borne out not only in Jews’ traditional affinity for racial minorities of all kinds (which is of course not a bad thing in itself, and was the source of much heroism in times when other American demographic groups were not nearly as enlightened), but Jews’ high level of affinity for and identification with Muslims. Recent surveys find that Jews are almost as pro-Muslim as American Muslims themselves, and perceive more anti-Muslim discrimination by Americans than actual Muslims do.
The idea that religious minorities must band together against a hostile Christian majority is a key Democratic talking point for maintaining Jewish support. As the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC), the leading Democratic Party entity in the Jewish community, recently said in an attack press release on Herman Cain, he allegedly “proved that generalized attacks on Islam can sweep up Judaism and other religions in their path.” In response to the King hearings on the potential radicalization of American Muslims, the NJDC said:
“Representative Peter King’s upcoming hearings regarding ‘The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response’ are truly detrimental – detrimental because they target and single out one community, solely based on its religious affiliation. American Jews – and all Americans concerned about the rights of religious minorities, upon which this country was founded – should be deeply troubled about the chilling effect calling out Muslims through a congressional hearing can and will have on religious tolerance.”
Even Gallup (well, Gallup Abu Dhabi) has gotten into the act, claiming that those who express “a great deal” of prejudice against Jews have a high likelihood of also being prejudiced against Muslims. The problem: it is a simple matter to calculate the former group consisted of about 10 people surveyed, rendering their findings transparently meaningless.
The flip side of Jewish affinity for Muslims is a deep-seated fear of Evangelical and/or fundamentalist Christians, who used to, but no longer, display a highly elevated prevalence of anti-Semitism. Jews express high levels of hostility and negative affect towards Evangelical Christians, Christian fundamentalists, the Religious Right, and other formulations of that general set of groups.
A 2003 Pew survey found that 42% of Jews felt antagonistic towards Evangelical Christians. The 2004 American National Election Study found that Jews on average rated fundamentalist Christians a 30 out of 100 on a feeling thermometer (how warm or cold the respondent feels towards a group, with 50 being neutral). In the same survey, pro-life conservative Republican Evangelical or fundamentalist Christians rated Jews an average of 82, compared to rating Catholics an 80. In a survey sponsored by the NJDC, 90% of Jews rated Evangelicals below 50 on a feeling thermometer, and a study based on that survey found that “Negative attitudes toward evangelicals played a central role in keeping Jewish voters in the Democratic fold.”
Additionally, Jews perceive very high levels of anti-Semitism among Evangelical Christians, (falsely) thinking it higher than any other group surveyed except Muslims.
Stoking this hostility is key to traditional Jewish Democratic strategies. On Monday, I gave a personal account of one such outrage committed by then-NJDC-president and now Obama campaign Jewish Outreach Chair Ira Forman. But his statement was a talking point, not an isolated outburst. Then-DNC chair Howard Dean said Democrats
“believe that Jews should feel comfortable in being American Jews’ without being constrained from practicing their faith or be compelled to convert to another religion”
staking out the position that Democrats’ are the only thing standing in the way of Republicans enacting forced conversions and denying Jews the right to practice their religion.
A look at the NJDC web site’s issue sections makes their strategy clear. While Israel (and a couple “Other” categories and one about misuse of the Holocaust left over from a general campaign against Glenn Beck) is a specific topic, the others are “Separation of Church and State,” “Woman’s Issues,” and “Reproductive Rights.” Much of their focus is on social issues that can be tied into hostility towards religious Christians. Press releases attacking each significant GOP presidential contender as scary promoters of religious bigotry or friends of religious bigots are of course included.
True, Jewish social liberalism and hostility towards religious conservatives form a chicken-and-egg feedback loop that cannot easily be disentangled with observational statistics, but political disagreement need not lead to hostility. Those same right-wing Christians described above who rated Jews an 82 on the feeling thermometer gave liberals a 30 and Democrats a 26. Political disagreement need not lead to hostility. Additionally, the fact that feelings towards Evangelicals predict vote choice independent of social views suggest that these feelings are directly affecting behavior.
Jews on average are wrong about where they fit into the pattern of affinities among American groups. Surveys consistently find that minorities are far more anti–Semitic than whites, and that either there is no difference between the parties in levels of anti-Semitism, or Democrats are more anti-Semitic, or Democrats are more anti-Semitic, but probably because more of them are minorities. Anti-Semitism among Evangelical, fundamentalist, or Religious Right Christians has mostly faded away, going from prevalent in the 1970’s, to maybe slightly elevated or maybe not depending on how you look at it in the mid-1990s, to either equal to or lower than the general population soon after. A Pew survey of Evangelical leaders worldwide finds that their views towards Jews are essentially identical to their views towards other Christian denominations, even though they perceive Jews as less friendly to them.
While Anti-Semitism in America is far from eliminated, American Jews, for the most part, have made it. Although some level of hate crimes and other serious prejudice does exist, for what others think of them, Jews for the most part might as well be a type of white ethnic that practices their own denomination of Christianity. This is not to say that Jews should suddenly develop hostility towards minorities or join Team White Racists, but merely that having largely achieved in-group status, it is beneficial to shake off the fears and hostilities that scholars know to arise from marginalization and insecurity.
Instead, Jews often think of themselves as under siege by a hostile religious majority, a misconception actively promoted by the Democratic Party for enormous political gain. Not only the occasional act of genuine anti-Semitism but prevalent and generally well-meaning misunderstandings – such as incidents where many Jews feel public Christianity is actively oppressing them while many Christians don’t understand why their religious expressions are being restricted – contribute greatly to the Democrats’ false narrative.
Ending the Democratic near-monopoly on the Jewish vote means Jews feeling as safe in America as they really are. How best to do this, I am unsure, but it probably requires promoting interfaith understanding, friendly discussion of non-hostile conflict, and the healing of old wounds, as well as responding with indignant fury to Democratic slander. Democrats love to accuse Republicans of secretly trying to mobilize their base with coded appeals to prejudice. Perhaps it is time to return the favor.
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It’s like knowing two people who would be perfect for each other whom you want to introduce … but they’ve created a false first-impression in their minds and refuse to go through with the meeting.
LukeHandCool (ever the hopelessly romantic matchmaker)
Just saw this:
Rep. Henry Waxman:
“There are Jews who are trending toward the Republican Party, some of it because of their misunderstanding of Obama’s policies in the Middle East, and some of it, quite frankly, for economic reasons. They feel they want to protect their wealth, which is why a lot of well-off voters vote for Republicans.”
How many tens-of-thousands of square feet is that mansion in Rhode Island?
Matthew interesting post. It leaves me reflective and sad.
To quote one of the links, “There’s definitely some spin intended here.”
So you’re saying that the Democrats pretend to be protecting Jews from mostly imaginary racism (and it works). This is the same strategy they pursue toward everyone else (except the rich).
The Demo-rats agenda is to tear this country apart! All they do is bash different groups of people based on the news of the week. And they want to pass bully legislation, they ARE the biggest bully. Will they just get out of the kitchen and stop sturing the pot!
As a gentile who was perhaps a Jew in a previous life, I find this fascinating. I can see how Jews identify with minorities because of widespread anti-Semitism and the religious persecution they have had to deal with throughout time. That said, to me, Jewishness is very much about being of accomplishment. I know, who am I to say this as a gentile – I fully realize that this is simply my perception. With the widespread success we have seen amongst Jews throughout history, in nearly every field of human endeavor, it seems odd to me that the Jews would identify mostly with being one-down, as many minorities do.
Although I am a cafeteria Christian (I went down the line and took what I liked while leaving behind other things that were less appealing to me), I still see Christianity as the religion where the teaching is that we can indeed transcend our earthly situation whatever it may be. To me this is essentially what the ascension of Christ is really about although there is now so much extraneous content in Christianity it’s difficult to see the essence of it today.
It seems to me that the Jewish people have indeed transcended (or overcome) their earthly situation and their detractors and they have embraced nearly every mode of behavior that is conducive to realizing one’s fullest potential in life. One striking characteristic of Jewish behavior that we can see in the Israeli Defense actions, is that after they have suffered some sort of atrocity, they never go in and clean house so to speak. They take very measured actions and they are, more then any other group on the planet, very sensitive about inflicting harm even to those who have been far less sensitive about this matter. Thus, Jews, at least in Israel, clearly do not exhibit behavior that is determined by the actions of others. Why then do they “think like repressed people”, when in fact, they are an extremely evolved people? What am I missing here?
I was brainwashed by the Presbyterian Church to believe that the nation of Israel was established thousands of years ago at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, Moses brought the 10 Commandments to the Hebrew people (and anyone else willing to listen) from God, and Solomon built a great temple in Jerusalem. Being Christians we also learned Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were devout Jews.
I worry that if Israel goes to war, Obama will not restock the Israeli arsenal. Will I be a Christian like Corrie Ten Boom or Dietrich Bonhoeffer?
[…] Democrats Cultivate Fear, Anti-Evangelical Hostility, To Drive Jewish Vote […]
That explains a lot. I get so frustrated with my leftist Jewish friends but your post goes a long way towards helping me understand.
Thank you, Matthew, for making these excellent points. I suspect that the reaction to the adjective “Christian” comes from a belief that there is no reason, in a perceived Christian majority country, to state the “default” unless it is intended to imply a negative or an exclusion of things or people who are not Christian. (“He is a good Christian man”, e.g., is heard as “He is not a [$^&*] Jew.” “This is a Christian country” is heard much the same way as would be “This country of and for the benefit of white people”.) I don’t think Christians realize this. There is high fear and sensitivity. It’s not actually about affinity with other minorities, a number of whom are also believed to be antisemitic, but an ideological stance. Understanding this could go a long way toward countering it.
I also suspect that a segment of Jewish demographic identification with the Democratic party stems from affiliation by immigrant and first generation Jews (and their offspring), with FDR and the pro-labor movement of the early to mid-20th century.
As I understand Evangelical Christianity, their obligation is to save the souls of non Evangelical Christians and every other religious group. Their belief, again as I understand it, is that if you do not accept Christ as your Savior, your eternal soul is condemned to Hell. This is their mission and what drives them to far off lands to convert those who do not know about Christ, his teachings and salvation. As for me, I am comfortable in my own skin and do not need or want someone who I do not know how to achieve salvation. For years, my brother wanted me to attend an EST seminar. I finally went and was disappointed, maybe appalled when I was denied admission because I would not give the gatekeeper my last name, my address or my phone number. She said that “they” needed this information for “their” records. I said that if I had to give “them” my contact information to listen to what “they” had to say, I had no interest in hearing what “they” had to say. One of the other participants came forward and said that “they” had a gift for me and that I should accept it. He pestered me to attend while I was leaving. I will decide what “gifts” I am willing to accept. That goes for saving my eternal soul, also. If a Supreme Being is not willing to judge me on what I have done in my life but will judge me on acceptance of Him as my personal Savior, then I do not want to go to that place.
As an aside, I do not like to be told to eat my spinach.
There is nothing that turns me off more then someone coming up to me and telling me that their religion or belief system is superior to mine or that they are trying to save me. As a Christian, I can barely tolerate those Christians who believe their Christianity is superior to mine because they are born again. I do not consider myself to be devout, however, I do consider whatever anyone believes to be an extremely personal matter.
Dims use fear to drive any vote. It’s all they know and all they have.