These old-style liberals honor the flag; they’d never “take a knee” for the national anthem. They believe in judging people not by the color of their skin—or their class or gender—but by the content of their character. They find incomprehensible the switch from free speech reverence to a hate-fueled “cancel-culture,” and know that it was a mistake for the Democrats to jettison liberal core values to align with far-Left forces rapidly transforming both party and country. It pains them, but they cannot pull the lever for Joe Biden. Not in good conscience. Not this year. Not for these Democrats.
The growing evidence may be anecdotal, but it is unmistakable. Based on extensive voter feedback, there are increasing numbers of life-long liberal Democrats who have had enough of their party’s frighteningly illiberal Left turn. They’ve decided they will not, at this precarious time, risk empowering today’s radical new Democratic allies with control of the nation’s future. It pains them, but they cannot pull the lever for Joe Biden. Not in good conscience. Not this year. Not for these Democrats.
These are old-style liberals of integrity who still believe in the goodness—even greatness—of America. They are probably your friends and neighbors—maybe even your parents. They are moderate, decent and patriotic.
They are Democrats to the bone, and would never dream of voting Republican, let alone for Donald Trump. This will be hard for them, and they are not so eager to share their plans, neither with friends nor pollsters. They see the Democratic leadership ready to jettison even core liberal principles for near-term tactical electoral advantage. They know that it was a mistake for the leadership to align with and enable those far-Left forces rapidly transforming both the party and country. They are who they have always been; these voters haven’t left the Democratic Party so much as the Party has left them. They justifiably feel betrayed, abandoned and politically homeless.
Many are older. In a more civil era, they absorbed and still cherish American cultural values of liberty, meritocracy, hard work, decency, tolerance, respect of differences—and, especially, free speech. Many are children of immigrants, if not immigrants themselves, raised in homes with the unique appreciation for America that comes from having lived elsewhere under tyranny. Particularly the Jews in this demographic tend to have a uniquely heartfelt love for America for the refuge and freedom it provides, and for recognizing them as fully equal, first-class citizens to a degree unmatched in Jewish diaspora history.
These are people who honor the flag; they would never “take a knee” for the national anthem. They believe in judging people not by the color of their skin—or their class or gender—but by the content of their character. They find incomprehensible the switch from free speech reverence to a “cancel-culture” which ruins the lives of people just for stating “wrong” opinions which were perfectly acceptable until five minutes ago. And they find equally incomprehensible how their party now stands opposite these core values. Notably, for this election, many are Florida voters.
They’re waking up to their party’s newfound “woke-ness:” the young, energized, “intersectional” forces within the Democratic party are grievance-bearing, America-resenting, socialist-leaning, law-disrespecting, thuggish, anti-democratic, and hostile to traditional liberal democratic values. They see that Democratic leaders won’t dare cross the woke-ocracy as long as they need its votes, no matter how large a wrecking-ball is swinging at American ideals and institutions. They fear that the summer’s upheavals are just a taste of things to come, particularly whenever these radicals don’t get their way.
Where are the Democrats’ full-throated condemnations of riotous Black Lives Matter and Antifa attacks on—even murders of— honorable police officers or civilian counter-protestors? Of pointless destruction of businesses which citizens have spent their lives building? Of arson and looting? Of anarchy and lawlessness? Of beatings of anyone filming or reporting on the violence? Of rampant toppling of statues and legacies of America’s founding fathers and heroes? Of the wholesale revision and upending of American history, teaching students that America’s signature attribute is not liberty or equality under the law, but racism? Of the relentless vilification of “whiteness”—defined to include Jewish-ness to such an extent that even the Holocaust is dismissed as “white-on-white crime”? And of politically opportunistic prosecution of ordinary citizens defending themselves, their homes and businesses against mobs and looters when the police do not defend them?
In city-after-city, uber-progressive, virtue-signaling Democratic mayors and prosecutors allow this mayhem to continue and order the police to stand down; arrests are minimal, and those arrested are back on the street in no time. In fact, Biden staffers, and Kamala Harris herself, raise money to bail these rioters out of jail. These voters can only guess how soon the violence is coming to their neighborhoods. They see that today’s Democratic politicians have political priorities above the protection of ordinary citizens; they know their own homes, businesses and safety may be sacrificed next.
They know how long it took Biden and leading Democrats to even whisper a word of qualified criticism of this lawlessness. They see no Democrats stand up to defend United States federal agents dispatched to burning cities where local governments refused to control the violence, instead smearing them as “Stormtroopers.” They see opportunistic Democrats aligning with the “Defund the Police” movement. Clearly, this is no longer their party.
A gigantic red flag to these voters is the refusal by leading Democrats (and Democrat-leaning media) to call out the antisemitic element in these nationwide disruptions. Has no Democratic leader noticed that BLM’s lone “foreign policy” position is a condemnation of “genocidal” Israel? Are we really supposed to pay no attention as so-called “peaceful protestors” go out of their way to deface synagogues with hostile graffiti, and to loot and vandalize Jewish-owned businesses? And as marchers in Washington chant “Israel, we know you, you murder children too”? The party leaders increasingly answer only to the “Justice Democrats,” led by Congressional “squad” members Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Democratic leadership is too afraid to condemn even their outright antisemitic statements. So, the Democratic Socialists of America pick off one moderate Democrat after another in primaries. Their latest victim: Jewish, staunchly pro-Israel Democrat Rep. Eliot Engel, defeated by Democratic Socialist Jamaal Bowman. Flexing their muscle, the DSA even sent a questionnaire to all New York City Council candidates that included a pledge not to travel to Israel. The corresponding erosion of support for Israel among Democrats is hard to miss.
These voters pay attention to university campuses, where the woke-progressive and anti-Zionist ethos rules unchallenged, and see a glimpse of what is coming for everyone. A sample? Jewish student Rose Ritch was recently drummed out of USC’s student government for complicity in racism—because she is a Zionist. If it wasn’t clear enough why, her classmates campaigned to “Impeach her Zionist ass.” At Northwestern, Shabbat-observant President Morton Schapiro has been hounded by BLM protesters demanding the abolition of university police. Hundreds of protestors have been massing in front of his home (including this past Saturday), burning school banners, chanting profanities at “Piggy Morty,” menacing neighborhood residents, blocking streets, vandalizing property and businesses, and setting fires. For criticizing this behavior, Schapiro’s resignation is now demanded by the African American Studies department, among others.
Everyone understands Joe Biden is no “woke” socialist progressive. But does anyone doubt the role the radical progressives will play in a Biden Administration? Does anyone believe he’ll control all policy for all of the next four years?? He may not even understand his role as a Trojan Horse for the hardline progressives who have taken charge of policy. He may be the benign public face of the party; but who are the “men behind the curtain” to whom we had better pay attention? The Biden campaign website features its 110-page policy outline, the “Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force Recommendations. It is evident throughout that the Sanders camp, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (one of the drafters), had a lot more input than Biden did. Biden’s name is on the ballot, but who truly leads this party? And leading it where?
Where is the “vetting” of the Biden team—perhaps most importantly, of Kamala Harris, the only Senator with a voting record further Left than Bernie Sanders (who himself is in line for a cabinet position should Biden win)? Who are the key players on the Biden team, and why don’t we hear from or about them?
In his inaugural address, President John F. Kennedy warned of the fate that awaited those who accommodated totalitarian movements: “…those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.” Democratic leaders may only see votes and a route to power by accommodating the BLM/Antifa/woke/intersectional forces and their “activism” of violence, bullying and intimidation. But these voters understand, as JFK did, the problems with mounting that radical tiger: first, whatever course the rider may think he’s setting, it is the tiger in charge of their direction; and second, there is no safe way to dismount.
These deeply American voters are not about to facilitate political power for the tiger, even if that means not voting for their once-proud Democratic Party. The party has degraded itself, trading its soul in exchange for radical support it hopes will secure political victory. For this year, these honorable men and women are saying, “No thanks; this is not who we are.” Perhaps, if the tiger is out of the picture, they’ll happily vote Democrat again in 2024. Until then, the Democrats had best not rely on their votes.
Abe Katsman is an American attorney and political commentator living in Israel.