It's hard to navigate the "how can I be a political pluralist in the midst of Donald Trump's ascent" conundrum. Not just because I'm a rabbi. Not just because I'm a Jew. Not just because I'm a Democrat. Not just because I'm a worried father.
It's hard, because I truly believe that there are multiple truths in the world, because I acknowledge that my politics can be wrong, because I know that I only know what I know. But I don't believe we have a choice at this moment in the theater of American politics. I believe we are in serious danger as a society.
Here's what I've decided, based on the very real likelihood of Trump's nomination:
First of all, yes, if he wins the GOP nomination, Democrats, Independents, and open-minded Republicans will have a unifying rallying call. The reverberations of his rise to power will fuel the kind of politics I support for years to come. But the cost is too high. I'd rather Hillary (fine, friends, or Bernie. You likely know I'm a Bernie-tinged American Rabbi who supports Hillary Clinton) face a GOP politician than a terrifying hate-clown.)
Secondly, as the great Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel famously wrote in his seminal anti-Vietnam War essay, there is "no time for neutrality." I feel haunting echoes of Philip Roth's marginally fictionalized "The Plot Against America" happening in #RealLife. And there is no sideline safe enough for my family - or for yours - to stand on and wait for this to blow over. Donald J. Trump is (or, more gently stated, represents) an American nightmare.
Thirdly, this isn't capitalism vs. socialism (which leads to the terrible comparison between Bernie Sanders' and Trump's rallying the American angry). Trump willingly embodies what Jewish tradition calls Sinat Chinam, causeless hatred. He hates indiscriminately, and refuses to condemn bigotry (see under "Trump, David Duke, KKK").
There's so much more to say, but it's being said. By people with the resources and platforms to spread this warning everywhere. Here are four, to whom (and to whose staffs) we owe a great deal of thanks:
- Ezra Klein on VOX: "Donald Trump's rise is a scary moment in America"
- John Oliver on HBO: "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Donald Trump"
- Seth Myers on NBC: "Trump's South Carolina Win: A Closer Look"
- and Jimmy Kimmel on ABC: "'Trumped' Starring Matthew Broderick & Nathan Lane"
I am scared. We all should be, not just here in America, but all around the world, where American can be (and must become) a source of light and good. Too much is on the line for us to allow hate this global platform.