The Tea Party and Us


rabbi-lipschutzBy Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

It’s finally over. The much anticipated election of 2010 is now a part of history. Now it’s on to the presidential election of 2012. The energy poured into this election will be negligible compared to what is likely to be invested in the next presidential election.

Now that the Republicans have demonstrated their appeal to the majority of the American people, they will be further emboldened to win back the White House. The Democrat party, whose loss of touch with the people is increasingly on display, will be desperately trying to hold on to the power it still maintains, while seeking to prevent a rollback of the progressive legal advances that have proved so unpopular with the masses.

Two years ago, Barack Obama overcame the odds, winning election to the presidency as a uniter, not a divider. He sold himself as a post-partisan politician who would ignore party labels, and who would govern in a bi-partisan manner. His election, he said, would usher in a historic era during which America would regain its preeminent position in the world, the economy would return to its full strength, fairness would return to the country’s taxation system, and an era of brotherhood and peace would dawn.

The entrenched power structure and the mainstream media delighted in Obama’s victory and did all they could to sustain the momentum generated by that victory in hopes of ushering in a new utopian era.

But while the American people were looking for a pro-growth agenda to return lost jobs, the administration engaged in class warfare. When Obama supporters and those who elected a Democrat Congress sought legislation which would ramp up the economy and enable their real estate holdings and investments to return to pre-recession values, they were served up a partisan agenda of deficit-enhancing bills which did just the opposite.

The people were sold a stimulus bill which did everything but stimulate the economy, and a health care bill which will only ruin health care and raise their taxes.

The American people saw their own economic prospects dim, while their tax bills grew, their health care was threatened, and the government continued to grow at a fearful rate.

The hypocrisy of the leadership in Washington on both sides of the aisle became evident to many of those who had voted out the Republicans last time around, only to exchange them for an even more incompetent set of characters.

Jewish voters, who overwhelmingly vote for Democrat candidates, fretted while Obama and his administration tossed Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu about like an old, unwanted rag doll. The threats to withhold funding for Congressional candidates in a tough year and other traditional methods of political pressure bore fruit and Obama came around. He held a sulcha with Netanyahu and the Jews breathed a temporary sigh of relief.

But with the peace process floundering and Obama desperate for an easy international diplomatic success he can point to, many fear that during the next two years, he will again resort to making ruthless demands on Israel.

His promise to influence Iran to renounce its nuclear ambitions by treating its leaders with the respect they covet, coupled with a policy of imposing sanctions, has not borne fruit.

Bush’s war in Iraq, vilified by the liberals, was won, while Obama’s war in Afghanistan is bogged down by incompetent leadership and aggravated by insufficient troops and dependence upon the government of a corrupt lunatic.

When Harry Reid became the Majority Leader of the US Senate, the unemployment rate in his home state of Nevada was 4.4 percent. Today it stands at 14.4%. Such dire economic numbers prove the falsity of his claims that the state needs him to represent them in Washington.

In general, more people are waking up to the fact that a biased media has for too long been manipulating the facts and controlling public opinion through propaganda. But with the growing influence of people such as Rush Limbaugh and other astute commentators, and the ability of people to educate themselves to the true facts, political naïveté is no longer so rampant. People and organizations that depend upon a gullible public in order to finance their agenda are going to find themselves marginalized.

It takes time, but eventually voters catch on. They realize that they have been duped by deceitful leaders motivated not by an altruistic drive for public service, but by an appetite for power. These glory-seekers see the masses as props to help them maintain their grip on power and financial opportunity.

Politically well-connected individuals and some privileged elites positioned themselves to control access to the media, to elected officials, and to sources of funding for their pet communal projects. Anyone seeking government grants, political favors or justice has had to go through the elites who control the access and the spigots.

Now, perhaps public servants will begin to realize that they are responsible to the voters who empowered them to represent the public. If nothing else, maybe this election will remind people that hypocrisy, hubris and a feeling of entitlement are antithetical to true leadership.

Leaders must maintain contact with the people who empower them. They have to regularly prove themselves to the masses. Delusional individuals, who think they are all-knowing and all-powerful, and who surround themselves with “yes men” as they sit ensconced in their ivory towers, will inevitably be toppled.

This is as true in our world as it is in the general society. Many of the very people who view themselves as our leaders and spokesmen have lost touch with their base. Many of them view us as insignificant peons upon whom they can trample in order to maintain their power. They have forgotten that celebrity is not a goal in and of itself, but rather a tool to utilize for the betterment of the community. Political connections are made in order to be able to advocate for communal needs, not to promote a selfish infatuation with power.

People feel that in days gone by, there were a few chosen selfless individuals to whom the needy could turn and earn an attentive ear, a strong shoulder, and effective muscle. Today, machering is a cottage industry. Public service does not appear to be the main motivation.

The needs of our community are great. We desperately require unimpeachable individuals who work for the communal welfare with mesirus nefesh and are blessed with siyata diShmaya as an outgrowth of their dedication to performing tzorchei tzibbur b’emunah.

We are plagued by lethargy, apathy and fatigue. We are in economic distress. Our way of life costs more than many people earn. Weddings are an added burden. We have rising tuition costs and schools unable to properly pay their rabbeim and teachers. We don’t have enough left over to support the less fortunate and mosdos haTorah vochesed in this country and in Eretz Yisroel.

There are too many singles who can’t find a shidduch, too many children who want to go to school and are rejected by every school in town, and too many children who have rejected school and are at risk of dropping out entirely from the community.

We have to create an environment that encourages and allows people to rise from the grassroots to address our concerns. We need people with innovative ideas to deal with the challenges we face. We need people who are unfazed by corrupting temptations, will withstand elitist pressures, and will not succumb to inertia. We need passionate young people who have not yet been turned cynical by the daunting tasks they face.

We are blessed with many intelligent, altruistic, loyal people who can rise to the challenge if tested and given the opportunity. This year’s political revolution was spawned by regular people. Ordinary people can accomplish the extra-ordinary if given a chance. Properly nurtured, the guy next door can be the one who helps formulate solutions and rallies the whole block to coalesce around them.

The Tea Party isn’t necessarily a passing phenomenon and it may very well have lasting effects on the political life of this country. If properly studied, it may have a positive influence on what plagues us as well.

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  1. this clause, “Jewish voters, who overwhelmingly vote for Democrat candidates” is perhaps only true by the non-observant jews. however, frum jews who work for a living, overwhelmingly vote Republican (Conservative).

  2. take this clause for example, printed by the JPOST : “Exit polls indicated that Jewish support for Democratic candidates has slipped to some of its lowest levels in years.”

  3. Remember: Jews are politically SPLIT – with more frum going in for the Right Wing because of religious school funding, tzedaka, etc. etc.; and while NOT for those reasons – I too, am conservative – VERY CONSERVATIVE in my politics. But – and this is a BIG BUT – did you learn of the Tea Party engendered referendum in Oklahoma which “outlaws” any consideration of Sharia law in legal cases there? Now, we KNOW that judges in USA cant legally use sharia law – but whiny defendants could claim religious persecution now that even reference to it is outlawed.

    But if even the “consideration” of sharia law can be outlawed – because, after all, this is a DEMOCRACY – then why can’t batei dinim? And if Oklahoma why not NYS? Are we no less sensitive to Islamic Fundamentalism here?

    Now – before you go sending Attorney Levin to defend the Aravim in Oklahoma in a knee-jerk response to the above – how would you like to be seen to be defending sharia law – as a jew – in the USA????????

  4. There is no reason I see that any State law could not recognize a Sharia court as a recognized mediation facility the same as they do for batei dinim. However no American local, state or federal court ought to recognize arguments based on any religious legal code, Torah, Sharia or any other. Courts may only consider the codes of the entities in which they are chartered.

  5. I think I was unclear about my true point:

    1 – This IS a sovereign democracy – not a theocracy
    2 – Therefore consideration of alternate (i.e. against the sovereignty) or religious (as compared to democratic) judiciaries is heinous to the American hashkafa.
    3 – Therefore I APPROVE of the anti-Sharia law not only because it is anti-Sharia (though that is a nice addition) but mainly because it further codifies the separation of church and state and re-establishes the bridgehead in the modern world in the face of rising fundamentalism on all sides.