A Modest Proposal

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"A Modest Proposal"

As Kevin Drum notes (and then again) one of the striking things about the Democrats’ victory is that it has very little in the way of a specific demographic basis. After the 2004 election, there was a lot of slicing and talk about finding ways to do better with, say, married women or the white working class or exurbanites or religious people or what have you. What wound up happening, however, was that Democratic performance improved modestly pretty much across the board. The two notably exceptions to this are Latinos, where recentish GOP gains were reversed thanks to their embrace of immigrant-bashing, and . . . Jews.

This last result is interesting because there’s been an awful lot of hand-wringing since 9/11 about how the Bush administration’s embrace of right-wing Israeli nationalism might push Jews into the Republican camp. Meanwhile, the rightwing Jews have spent a lot of time suggesting that critics of the Bush administration’s policies are anti-semites. But for whatever reason, American Jews are still living like Episcopalians and voting like Puerto Ricans (an old New York political joke, nowadays Episcopalians increasingly vote like Puerto Ricans).

At any rate, as Daniel Levy argues here and here some congressional Democrats are going to try and implement a strategy of somehow getting to Bush’s right on Israel policy. There’s precedent for this in Tom Lantos’ psychotic Lebanon aid bill and Chuck Schumer’s brain-dead attacks on Nouri al-Maliki, but it’s no good.

Something Democrats are going to have to increasingly grapple with as they try to actually influence the direction of American foreign policy is that topics relating to Israel are genuinely central to American interests and national policy. It’s simply not viable to try and construct a coherent liberal approach to the world that’s consistent with saying “how high?” every time AIPAC tells you to jump.

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