11/06/2014 12:38 pm ET Updated Jan 06, 2015

Religious Extremists Did Not Derail This Election

The only surprise about the giant Republican congressional victory is why it didn't happen sooner. Why did President Obama even win reelection in 2012?

Clearly, the American people got tired of seeing American weakness internationally and the rise of monsters like ISIS as a direct result of American foreign policy mismanagement. Seeing Putin dump on the authority of our country and run circles around President Obama would have done little for any American sense of pride or global order.

No doubt voters also tired of seeing endless rising taxes, businesses punished with out of control regulation, and the promises of an economic recovery which is still not being felt by the consumer. The leading economic indicators all show that American take-home pay is not keeping up with inflation.

But all this has been taking place for years now. That President Obama is weak on foreign policy and has as his main outlook the depressing outlook of "Don't do stupid stuff" has been evident for many years. So why the big loss only now?


The Republicans in the last election came across as the insane party, filled with religious extremists who believe that women should not be allowed an abortion even in cases of rape and incest. They were the party that obsessed over female reproduction, contraception, and gay marriage, even as the country went to hell in a hand basket. So however sound their foreign and economic policy, America was not going to vote for insane people.

When I ran for Congress two years ago it was mostly on a policy of America needing a new set of social values. In place of abortion, gay marriage, and contraception we should be discussing family dinners, a year of national service, and school choice.

I remember telling Republican party elders of the need to utterly change the party's values away from a social sexual obsession. I was told I was wrong. The issue in the 2010 election was jobs.

That may be. But the rule of American politics is that by and large don't vote for insane people.

No, in this election cycle America did not discuss new values sufficiently. But at the very least we did not obsess over the trifecta of gay marriage, abortion, and contraception, either. And therein lies the secret of the Republican victory. If you present the country with a better alternative and you don't come across as religious extremists, you're going to win.

President Obama should take this all to heart. He was a president who started with such great promise and now he's been clobbered at the polls. The magnitude of the fall was immense. Six years ago President Obama was drawing half a million people to his speeches. Today he can barely fill up a high school gym.

What should he do differently?

First and foremost, he has to fix the broken American foreign policy. Get tough with Putin. Show him he can't run roughshod over other countries. Go beyond meaningless sanctions against his cronies. If you don't really punish bullies they just keep on bullying.

Stop your constant vacillation on the Jewish state. Stand up tall and strong for Israel. Show you care about freedom and democracy in the Middle East. Stop supporting Israel on the one hand, only to constantly criticize it for defending itself, on the other.

Reserve your opprobrium for Middle East dictators who are destroying their nation's democracies, like Erdogan of Turkey. Get tough with the Qataris who are funding Hamas.

Strike harder against terrorists and enlist greater international support in a coalition to destroy ISIS, Boko Haram, and Hamas. Show some of the impressive mettle that you demonstrated with the raid against Osama bin Laden.

Lower taxes and incentivize business. Let people keep more of their money and inspire them, with more cash in their pockets, to invest more heavily in America and to give more charity.

Incentivize people to work. Social programs that create dependencies are bankrupting both the treasury and soul of America. And it's making it impossible for us to invest in much-needed infrastructure projects, reducing America in certain places to third-world like status. Whoever can work should work. Those that cannot must be looked after strongly by those who can.

Most of all, stop blaming other people for your failures. It's unseemly and will get nothing done. It's been, to be honest, the most uninspiring element of your presidency. Maturity dictates that we are all accountable for our failures just as we deserve credit for our victories. President Bush is six years ago. Stop laying all your problems at his feet. The buck stops with you.

I still hope President Obama succeeds as president because America can't wait two years for leadership. To do so, he'll have to shift away from any of his policies, work with Republicans, and live up to his potential and promise.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, "America's Rabbi," is the international best-selling author of Kosher Sex and The Kosher Sutra. He has just published Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.