I went to a Jewish singles potluck on Saturday night, which could be an excuse to write about dating. That entry is still in the "to be written" corner of my mind. I happened to be seated across from someone who spent much of the evening talking loudly about politics and next to his partner in crime, as it were. (They weren't even arguing. But they were loud. And boring.) So let that be the excuse for writing about politics instead.
First, pretty much anybody who knows me, knows that I am the classic dead armadillo. That is, I am fervently middle of the road. I know that because my conservative friends think I am an ultraliberal (as evidenced by my having crocheted a uterus and sent it to our state attorney general. Who, as further evidence of the decline of civilized manners in our times, did not send any sort of acknowledgement,, but that is another rant.) At the same time, my liberal friends think I am horribly right wing because I believe that it isn't actually a bad thing for corporations to make profits for their shareholders.
So what does that have to with the price of tea in China? (A lot, actually, as the tea market is dominated by a few companies, all of whom seem to be conspiring not to stock lapsang souchong on the shelves of any of my local supermarkets. But I digress.)
What I think people have forgotten is that the real political question is what the proper balance should be between the individual and the community. This is something that needs constant attention. We want individuals to have rights, but those are meaningless without considering the impact of decisions on the community. And, since I am writing this shortly before Yom Kippur, I am going to talk about my father.
If anybody I ever met lived the American dream, it was my father. He came to the U.S. as a teenager, a DP, a survivor of the Kovno Ghetto and Dachau. He went on to a significant position in city government and a prosperous life. But, here's the thing. He was able to do that because of assistance from private charity (the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), family, public organizations (high school in Detroit, City College of New York or, as it was always referred to in our house, the Harvard of the Proletariat). When he retired from the New York City Housing Authority, he formed his own consulting firm - and he took advantage of political connections in doing so. That's how the American dream worked. It was never meant to be all private charity, but always included public infrastructure.
He also went to synagogue regularly, less out of religious fervor, than because "the rabbi shouldn't think he can't get a minyan." And that is pretty much my point. We have obligations to our communities and they may not always be convenient. Those include things like paying taxes, voting, serving on jury duty. They also include the common good. We can argue about details, but the "I'm all right, Jack, screw them all" approach to politics is inherently evil.
Go forth and vote.