This thread – http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=362873 – raised the possibility that Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin might run for president in 2008. He’s Jewish. Also pretty liberal, but let’s leave that aside. Has the U.S. reached a point where a Jew could get elected president, or not?
(Kerry doesn’t really count. He’s a Catholic of Jewish ancestry.)
I think it depends on the party. Personally, I doubt the GOP would ever nominate a non-Christian candidate. I don’t think that the Fundies would vote for a Jew. Many have flat out told me they would never vote for a candidate who wasn’t a Christian. I also don’t believe a Jewish candidate would get any support from the Christian right. They would find a third party candidate or something.
A Democrat could probably win since they don’t get the fundie vote anyway.
I would say yes for the right person. That person would have to be strong enough to overcome any reservations about Jewish leaders but it could be done. I say reservations rather than anti-semitic beliefs because I feel that the latter is rare in the U.S. There are only a limited number of groups that actually hate Jews in the U.S. anymore and, oddly, Christian fundamentalists aren’t among them. Those groups can even be buddy-buddy at times. I think that Jews as a group are respected by most groups in the U.S. even by some groups you wouldn’t think of.
I grew up in the rural South and went to college at Tulane (aka Jewlane because it is about 1/3 Jewish). My Jewish friends always asked me if people would hate them where I was from. I always told them not really. There aren’t any Jews there so there isn’t any reason to develop a hate towards something that doesn’t exist and their churches taught them lots about the Jews and the need to protect Israel and the rest of the Holy Land.
Now Muslims, that is a completely different story.
Lieberman played against the “liberal Jewish” stereotype, which was a plus. Feingold has the opposite problem. Similarly with Blacks, a Conservative Republican Jew would have a better chance of winning than would a Liberal or even moderately Liberal Jewish or Black Democratic candidate.
I should add that the biggest problem a Jew would face isn’t being Jewish but embodying a New York Jew stereotype. That one will not fly well because there is major national backlash against any of the upper East Coast urban types. A Jew from Texas would have a much better chance.
OTOH, Giuliani would be a strong presidential contender against those types of odds so I guess it really would depend if a Jew would be the same way regardless of their location.
I agree with John Mace and Shagnasty. I think a Devoutly Jewish person would be accepted by a good part of the Religious Right. Then add in a good Fiscal conservative background and an Honorable Military record and they might be embraced by the GOP.
Now I don’t think Senator Russ Feingold could ever be elected. The Country has moved too far from the left for him to have a good chance. Lets face it Nixon’s policies would probably be considered to the Left of Center these days. He was considered a moderate at the time of his election. In 1988 Dole was considered a Right Winger and the same man was considered a moderate in 1996. The Country has shifted and the Dems made a huge mistake in nominating Kerry last time, Bush should have been easy to knock out of office. I keep thinking that all the Democrats had too do was find a moderate candidate and they would have won.
Oh, I think I am confused. Does someone actually believe he could be elected. Obama would be elected first. He has a great presence and speaking voice.
I think even Hillary has a better chance, she is no where near as left wing as Feingold from what I can tell.
I don’t think America is ready for a Jewish president. Even a Christian Jew. After all, many Americans as evidenced by participation on this message board can’t believe that a Jew could be a Christian so I can’t believe that Americans will accept a Jew who claims to be an American.
I’m not exactly serious with the above comment but a previous thread by Americans regarding who is or who isn’t a Jew has me somewhat dis combobulated. After all, I was surprised that JFK’s religion was a topic of political conversation back in the 60s as if it really mattered.
I don’t think anti-semitism is the block for fundamentalists, it’s the “not-a-Christian” part. I have asked quite a lot of Fundamentalists if they would vote for a candiadte who wasn’t Christian and they almost always say no.
I also think the “buddy/buddy” thing between Fundies and Jews is largely disingenuous on the part of the Fundies. No matter what they say to their faces, the Fundies still think the Jews are either going to burn in hell or be converted to Christianitu en masse on Judgement Day. They may be polite to the Jews and support Israel (because they think it plays a part in their Rapture/Apocalypse pageant) but they don’t really respect Judaism as a religion.
I was really young at the time, but religion (believe it or not) played a much bigger role in everyday life then. Not so much “religion” as we mean it today, but the particular denomination you belong to. We speak about religion much more generally today-- without reference to specific denominations. And being Catholic was often associated with less desireable immigrants-- you know, like those Irish, Italian and Polish types. Them.
As I reference, my Grandmother was disowned from her family for marrying a Catholic (my grandfather) . Her family was Episopalian. That was the '20s, not the '60s, but can you even remotely imagine that happening today?
I opened the thread to mention The New Republic touting Feingold as a contender for the Democratic nom. I remember thinking, is America ready for a President named Feingold? I mean, come on, his name is “Fine Gold”! For an ornamental Ashkenazic name, it’s not strange, but for Gentile American culture, it’s funny.
Maybe if he runs against Boehner…
To be fair, I think a lot of conservative Christians are ok with Jews in politics if they agree with … their politcs. Maybe less so as head of state. But a lot of Republicans seem to respect the Kristols, & Joe “Loverman.”
It’s intersting that you seem to be the only one here obsessed about his name. Lieberman made a much bigger deal about his religion than Feingold does. I always assumed he was Jewish, but I’ve never heard him mention a word about it. I have no idea if he’s a practicing Jew or not.