Virginia GOP foolishly and inexplicably disenfranchises Orthodox Jewish voters
[UPDATE: The Virginia Republican Party reversed its decision enabling both Jews and Seventh Day Adventists to cast their votes before the sabbath. Read the original story, below.]
Both New Jersey and Virginia have an odd-year cycle in voting for their state political leaders. This year's election in both states is even a potential harbinger of events to come in the 2022 and the 2024 national elections.
Consequently, last Friday, April 23, I had a chance to hear a Republican primary candidate for the Virginia 2021 governor's race, Glenn Youngkin. The opportunity to hear an executive who is new to politics, after a successful business career overseeing the $230-billion investments of the Carlyle Group, was interesting and informative. It was a moment to celebrate that individuals like Glenn Youngkin throughout America in towns and small cities step forward in elections to take responsibility and make events happen, large and small, for the greater good.
However, all was not roses. At that meeting, the Youngkin team brought something morally upsetting to my attention.
The Washington Post, in a fair article, pointed out that because of a vote taken by the Virginia State Republican Central Committee, Orthodox Jews were disenfranchised from an opportunity to vote in the state primary on Saturday, May 8.
Four rabbis wrote to state GOP Chairman Rich Anderson and members of the party's governing board this month, asking that anyone with religious objections to the date be allowed to cast an absentee ballot. That option already is available to active-duty military personnel.
From every Friday at sunset until nightfall Saturday, Orthodox Jews "do not drive, use electronic devices, employ handwriting instruments (e.g. pens, pencils), among other prohibited activities," the rabbis wrote. "As such, it would be impossible for Jews of faith to vote in your unassembled convention.
As a Catholic, I believe that Orthodox Jews can trace their sacred foundational beliefs back to Moses, so not accommodating such a fundamental belief, based on religious law, is inexplicable. Not only is it an insult to basic Jewish religious belief, which is easy to accommodate, but it is flat-out stupid politics.
Orthodox Jews, after all, with their strong moral code and high family values, frequently vote Republican.
Just this week, Republic Book Publishers, based in Virginia, came out with a very important book.
Winning the second Civil War, Without Firing a Shot.
The book is an appeal for big-tent Republican thinking and action.
The author of the new book is former Green Beret Jim Hanson. The brilliance of his work begins with the title: "without firing a shot." With such a title, from the start, he makes it a book of ideas and peaceful action-driven teamwork. Thus inoculated as disavowing violence, the book can never be denigrated and boycotted on social media outlets by today's angry and rather stupid woke cancel culture cubicle commandoes. Hanson's words of wisdom for inspired big-tent action by Republican Party leaders in this new book are so powerful:
We must work to give the angriest elements in our camp productive outlets or we risk any violence they conduct to smear the entire movement. ... We must also find a way to keep our tent as large as possible. ... [W]e cannot afford to see a split between the Fighting Right and the Establishment. Both represent a considerable portion of our constituency. ... We must place the current danger and our common enemy above internal disagreements and build a better team together.
Please, please, Republican state leaders: In this spirit, reconsider this bad decision, and work to expand the most powerful possession one has in a democracy — the right to vote — and thus fully respect the deep faith of Orthodox Jews.
In following President Reagan's guidance, having been appointed by him to two different positions, I will not speak personally ill of the Republican Central Committee, but all I can say is, "Stop acting like arrogant my-way-or-the-highway Democrats."
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