Election 2020: Facts and Analysis: Who is “Good” to America (Part I in a Series)
by Martin J. Raffel
Meeting for the first time in 1961, President John F. Kennedy asked Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion what he could do for Israel. Ben-Gurion’s response: “Mr. President, be a good president to the United States.” America has been Israel’s most reliable friend in a world which has been less than hospitable to the one and only Jewish state. Therefore, it is not only in our interest, as Americans, to elect leaders who will keep our country strong militarily, economically, diplomatically — and healthy. A strong America is
in Israel’s fundamental security interest as well. Trump has been “bad” for the United States. Here is why:
From the beginning of his administration, Trump has shown no respect for America’s constitutional norms and has acted as though he is above the law. He has accused the media of being the “enemy of the people,” dismantled critical government institutions, demonized political opponents, coarsened our public discourse, agitated for chaos and violence in the streets,
undermined confidence in a safe and efficient election process, and lied multiple times each and every day.
He has failed in his most important responsibility, to keep Americans safe. We are suffering through a once in a century pandemic that is far worse than it needed to be because of Trump’s dismal failure to provide science-based national leadership. America’s cases of Covid-19 now top
6 million. The number of deaths is approaching 200,000. These numbers are a tragic testament to the president’s refusal to follow the advice of medical experts, preferring instead to focus on stock market numbers. With each state left to its own devices, this country still does not have an overall strategic Covid-19 plan more than six months after the initial virus outbreak.
Failure to handle the pandemic properly has crippled our economy and resulted in deprivation for tens of millions of now unemployed Americans as well as the permanent shuttering of small businesses across the country.
These developments have caused allies in Western Europe and elsewhere to regard us with pity rather than respect. Trump’s erosion of American influence and leadership long preceded Covid-19. Pursuant to his chilling “America first” mantra — with its resonance to U.S. pre-World War II isolationism — Trump has demeaned our critical NATO alliance, encouraged Russian readmission to the G-7 against the wishes of our allies, withdrawn U.S. support from previously signed international agreements, and fawned over some of the world’s worst dictators such as North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Russian interference in our democracy, under the Trump presidency, has not only gone unchallenged; it has been encouraged.
American strength also is dependent on basic societal cohesiveness. It is true that this country experienced significant polarization before Trump took office. However, Trump is the first president to exploit and deepen that division for his own political purposes. His inflammatory rhetoric and policies have torn America’s social fabric into shreds. Racism and the pitting of one
group of Americans against another are integral to Trump’s reelection strategy. A house divided cannot stand for itself, let alone for others.
Biden will be “good” to the United States. Here is why:
Vice President Biden, in contrast to Trump, possesses the characteristics of honesty, previous government experience, and reliance on health experts to get us through the Covid-19 pandemic. One example: he and President Obama led an aggressive, science-based response to Ebola, which
prevented the kind of massive outbreak we have experienced with Covid-19.
Once we properly address our health crisis, Biden has a clear vision for revitalizing our economy in a way that not only benefits large corporations and the wealthiest, but also will deliver substantial relief to American workers, families, and small businesses.
As U.S. senator and vice president, Biden has a proven track record of reaching across the aisle to formulate pragmatic and sensible bipartisan policy, such as his leadership role in adoption of the Violence Against Women Act. Biden believes in putting America’s interests first, but he also believes in the need to work with our allies in Europe and elsewhere to address issues that can only be effectively dealt with on a multilateral basis. He will not kowtow to the world’s worst dictators, and he will stand up to Russian aggression and interference in our democratic processes.
Biden’s empathy, compassion and generosity of spirit are needed now more than ever. He can heal the nation’s wounds, restore moderate centrist politics, and repair the damage Trump has done to our alliances abroad.
Many Republicans, including some who served in the Trump administration, have emerged to endorse Biden. They continue to have policy differences with the Democratic Party. But they see Biden as the best hope for saving American democracy and preventing our country from going down a path toward authoritarianism. This is an objective that transcends partisan politics.
For detailed information about how Vice President Biden plans to address our country’s challenges, go to: https://joebiden.com/joes-vision/
For a comprehensive Trump Versus Biden primer for the Jewish community go to: https://djop.org/2020/08/13/trump-vs-biden-a-jewish-
Martin J. Raffel grew up in Harrisburg, PA, and attended Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster. He attended the Hebrew University School of Law in Jerusalem and became a member of the Israel Bar Association. Following his return to the U.S. in 1978, he joined the Pennsylvania Bar Association before
beginning a career in Jewish public affairs in 1979 at the American Jewish Committee in Philadelphia serving as assistant director to Dr. Murray Friedman. Martin later served as director of the American Jewish Congress in Philadelphia and vice president at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. From 1987–2014, he was senior vice president at the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and principal professional on Israel, world Jewry and international human rights. He was instrumental in creating the
Israel Action Network, a joint strategic initiative of The Jewish Federations of North America and the JCPA to combat the assault on Israel’s legitimacy.
In preparation for the November election, Democratic Jewish Outreach Pennsylvania (DJOP) is taking a close look at the Trump presidency and the Biden/Harris candidacy. With the help of board member Martin J. Raffel, over the next several weeks we will publish our thoughts on a range of topics from the health of U.S. society and economy, Jewish security and antisemitism, U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, and Israel. We encourage you to read our material as you contemplate the most crucial election in the history of American democracy — an election our increasingly authoritarian president is trying to steal through his voter suppression tactics and failure to respond to continued Russian interference. But, please, do not just read it. We need to you to actively use this material in your advocacy efforts with colleagues, friends, and relatives. We encourage and value any feedback you care to share.