That Was Fast

Henry Waxman says that some Jews in NY-9 voted Republican to “protect their wealth.”


Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), a prominent Jewish congressman, said the Jewish vote is a concern for his party.

“I think Jewish voters will be Democratic and be for Obama in 2012, especially if you get a Republican candidate like [Texas] Gov. [Rick] Perry,” he said. “But there’s no question the Jewish community is much more bipartisan than it has been in previous years. 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.”

Now, this is undoubtedly true, though probably much less of a factor than Waxman intimates. Many people vote Republican because they are voting according to their economic interests. More importantly, they are right to do so. If you have wealth and you feel that you already give enough of it — perhaps even too much of  it  — to the government, than all other things being equal you’d be stupid not to vote Republican. After all,  Democrats are quite honest about the fact that they think the wealthy should have less money.

And some of those people are no doubt Jewish. It is my sincere hope that more and more Jews will follow suit.

I don’t think this is a big deal (the story’s on Drudge and is lighting up a bit on Twitter). But I suspect Waxman’s statement will not be well-received by many people in the Jewish community. Waxman who is himself Jewish (I always suspected Orcish) probably knows this already.

What I find interesting about it is that it illustrates how the Democrats simply don’t have the vocabulary to explain this sort of thing yet. They don’t know how to talk about events that shatter their cherished self-images or narratives. We see this all the time when liberals (particularly black liberals and feminists respectively) try to explain black or female Republicans. We’re seeing a very small example of this when it comes to Jews behaving in ways that confound liberal stereotypes. But I suspect there will be more.

Update: A commenter — Rick Z — below makes a good point:

I think the condescending “their misunderstanding of Obama’s policies in the Middle East” is worse than the wealth part. In short, the Jews that go to the GOP don’t get it.

I ignored it mostly because I took it to be political spin and nothing more. What else is Waxman going to say? That people concerned about Israel are rightly opposed to Obama’s Israel policies?

But if you take Waxman’s statement at face value, it is terribly insulting and dumb. The district is overwhelmingly Democratic and has voted for Weiner, Schumer, Obama, Clinton et al for decades. But suddenly the ones who are a bit too dumb to understand how great Obama is on Israel have suddenly decided to vote Republican? Except of course for the really greedy rich Jews who voted for Turner to protect their wealth.

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