Young Jewish Dems Weigh In On Candidates
— John Oliver Mason
The Jewish Caucus of the Young Democrats of America held an informal networking party at the Shouk Middle Eaters restaurant, on 6th Street between South and Bainbridge Streets, on Thursday, February 7, 2008. Organizing the event was Abe Haupt, Mid-Atlantic Regional Director of the Jewish Caucus. Of the networking party, Haupt said, "This event being held is part of a national event throughout the country. These are going to be held in nine different cities." The format, he said, "is a happy hour for Jewish Democrats up to thirty-five, who are looking to network and looking to get involved."
Haupt calls 2008 "an exciting political year, and we want to make sure the
Jewish voice is heard in the Democratic Party.
This is a very challenging time for American Jewry."
Haupt is passionate in his work in part because of his worry
that Jews might be drifting towards the Republican side. However, recent
and survey data
"There's a backlash against Liberalism within the Jewish community," adds Haupt, "and we have to stop that. We need to realize that we as Jews have fought for the underdogs, and the Democratic Party stands for the underdogs, the Democratic Party stands for the little guy. We as Jews aren't the little guy now, but we support the little guy. There's an old saying that Jews live like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans. I think that's our greatest virtue. I think the greatest thing about being a Jew is our liberal values that distinguish us from other successful groups. We haven't forgotten where we came from."
Of the idea that there is no real difference between the two major parties, Haupt says, "I think that is simply not true. Saying there's no difference between Republicans and Democrats is like saying there's no difference between chocolate and vanilla ice cream."
Haupt points to the tax-rebate program that was then being debated in Congress: "The Democratic version offers rebates for senior citizens, it offers rebates for the poor, the needy, and disenfranchised. The Republicans are just trying to filibuster it in the Senate. That epitomizes the difference between us and them, between Democrats and Republicans."
Josh Uretsky is the Co-Chair of Philadelphia for Obama, and he describes why he supports Barack Obama: "First, there's his opposition to the war (in Iraq). It was early and consistent. I, and most of the people I know, opposed the war back in 2002, when they first started talking about it. I think America deserves a President who has the judgment to know in advance that a misadventure like this is going to be a misadventure, before so many people died, so many people suffered, and so much money was spent, that is was going to be a problem, and it was going t make us less safe."
The other reasons Uretsky supports Obama, he says, "are more about style. I really feel that America needs in our next president someone who can bring our country together, to unite us to confront the problems we're going to face in recovering from the damage that's been done under the Bush Presidency. I feel like Barack Obama is the one candidate that really has the ability to reach out to every single American and ask them for their support. He will get a lot of Independent votes and even Republican votes if he's the nominee, but regardless of whom they vote for, when he's sworn in, people all over the country, in red states, are going to respect him, because he respects them. He respects them enough to campaign for their votes in the Primaries, and he'll campaign for their votes in the General. He also just respects every single American, just for being an American." "People all over the country," adds Uretsky, "all know that Bush does not respect them, and we all deserve a president we respect."
Jonathan Oriole is a volunteer for the Hillary Clinton
campaign: "So far the campaign in Pennsylvania is newly off the grounds in terms of field operations, but now as a result of Super Tuesday, everybody's going to look at Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. We thought, 'Oh, Pennsylvania, it's going to be all over (without Pennsylvania having a significant voice in the selection process).' Now, we can look forward to a Pennsylvania primary in April 28, and it's going to be pretty exciting. Right now, we've been doing a lot of fundraising — we've been doing fundraising for well over a year — and right now we're petitioning to get Hillary and her delegates on the ballot.
"I first got involved (in the Clinton campaign) in October," adds Oriole, "when the debate was held in Philadelphia, and I started to meet other Hillary supporters at a debate-watching party. I thought 'I really like this candidate and I really want to help her out,' and I got involved. There wasn't a whole lot going on in Pennsylvania, so I've gone to New York, New Jersey, Delaware, New Hampshire, helping out in other states. We have an advantage in Pennsylvania, we can help out our neighbors, and now they're going to have to repay the favor and help us."
Why does Oriole favor Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama? "I think Obama is a good candidate," he says, "but he's not there yet, he's not ready, and Hillary is. She has the experience; she's worked in the White House for eight years. I think the issues that concern most Americans — jobs, the economy, health care, Iraq, and foreign policy — on those issues, Hillary has more experience and her ideas are more concrete. On health care, she wants a plan that's going to cover every single American. For jobs and the economy, she has a very specific plan to invest in 'green collar jobs,' helping the environment and creating thousands of new jobs. As for Iraq and foreign policy, who better than someone who has already met with heads of state and government from all over the world? She has the working relationships with leaders in the Middle East. So if anyone is best positioned to make those kinds of relationships, and to broker some kind of peace deal, I think it is Hillary."
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