Secondly, I plan to vote because every vote from Israel is a vote for Israel in the sense that every vote from Israel increases the electoral importance of Israel.
Why then should I vote for Bush, and not for Gore (or Nader or Buchanan or one of the numerous other small party candidates)?
Reasons to vote Republican stem from the character of the Republican candidates and the philosophies of that Party's candidates:
Republicans most widely embrace the Federalist Papers (late-eighteenth-century essays written in defense of the U.S. Constitution by several authors). Those papers build on a balanced view of human nature, ascribing to people (educated or uneducated) ineradicable potential both for good and for evil; and the system they espouse is a system of law, a federal system that distinguishes between society and government and which features a division of powers, and which maximizes capabilities and responsibilities locally (in the families and small communities; or if these be temporarily overburdened, in the cities and counties and states), even while enabling decisive, centralized action e.g. in time of war. (The U.S. Constitution was contrived originally for a population about half the size of Israel's [but for a territory much larger than Israel's; and for a populace whose "Indian" and southern slave populations together were many times smaller than Israel's "Arab" minorities].)
Under the U.S. federal system, education, churches, and even police and fire protection, were financed and controlled locally. People moving westward (out of an extremely long-lived and fertile population in the northeast, augmented to a lesser but crucial extent by immigrants), or people moving into other unsettled territory, developed their own infrastructures; and "preemption acts" in the 1830s and 1840s, and the 1862 Homesteading Act bestowed to those working the land those federal lands on which they labored. This federalism was a system that both required and encouraged a wise and cooperating population that took civic responsibility and local government seriously.
Unlike in Europe, where "conservatives" were either monarchists or papists (or both), this constitutional federalism, a kind of classical liberalism, was the political "orthodoxy" of the United States; and various U.S. churches, such as Congregationalists and Baptists (for their own good, since they too were locally governed), stalwartly advocated economic and legal separation of "church" and centralized state. --From this one can understand the Republican Party's current and very fruitful alliance with (Bible advocating) social conservatives. (And one can also understand, given Jewish immigrants' Old World distrust of Christian institutions, one reason for why Democrat politicians support Israel because of the Jewish vote, and why Republicans no less fanatically support Israel despite the Jewish vote [although rank-and-file Republicans (unlike many of the more skeptical, pre-Goldwater, old-guard leadership) typically are more interested in the Jewish presence in Hebron and Shechem and Jerusalem, than in Tel Aviv, Herzeliah, and Bney Brak). And, coupled with the next paragraph, one can also see how that most of the American "right" view e.g. Adolph Hitler with his statism as representing the extreme "left."]
Now up to the years of Franklin Roosevelt's "New Deal," most all Democrats and the Republicans were federalist (with the Republicans, after their victories in the Civil War, being typically the Party of the American establishment; and Democrats often being the Party of the disenfranchised, hungry for newcomers). But the New Deal, with its hunger for power, created or brought to prominence in the U.S. another ideological force (a force that had long [since the Byzantines] been waiting in the wings): the force of socialists (who wanted to reform society by way of concentrated powers of the central government [which for the sake of quick reform would wrest control away from local institutions]; and the force of their fellow-travelers, the political "falangistim," the professional "activists" (or in today's mediaspeak, the "pragmatists" [to abuse a C. S. Peirce's quickly-corrupted term]). These men might seek to correct whatever problems arise by the raw power of the central government. Unlike the federalists, or Republicans, who understand the popular will to be one important but often self-contradictory interest that should be balanced e.g. against the requirements of law [legal requirements often countering the whims of a people], these "democrats" often conveniently propose that the task of the elected is sheerly to enact the popular will (rather than to do what is right, sometimes in the face of the popular will). These "pragmatists" or socialists [or sometimes, "moderates"] are typically people who claim to "get things done" (often after an expensive canvass of voters' wishes and fantasies rather than careful analysis of the problems, possible solutions, and their interrelations); and they might denigrate e.g. a "do-nothing" Congress. They easily feature those (in certain cases the offspring of wealthy mafioso or smugglers) who in the name of "compassion," or "social justice," `give' away to a few popular programs (not their own money, but) hard-earned earnings they have taken from the poor -- creating another layer of bureaucrats, using the deadly force of federal agents to tax $100 and to return (at best) $80. These emissaries of the people typically see state and local governments as impediments to social "progress" (and enjoy Hollywood caricatures of bigoted hayseeds, corrupt county sheriffs, and morally-empty preachers).
Too bad that, for all its furious activity, such a pragmatic "system" does not work (at least not for very long). While seemingly "correcting" innumerable wrongs -- wrongs that would be better and usually even more quickly remedied locally -- the "system" creates a massive bureaucracy that is increasingly removed from the day-to-day lives of the people; and (despite official and media accounts of wondrous successes in project x or project y) it brings an ever growing underclass, and widening poverty. And it widens the scope of the wrongs and encourages cruelty.
My now-retired mother, for example, has been a registered nurse, working most all her professional life in a hospital St. Louis and then in a hospital in California (eventually as evening shift director of nurses). She declares that while technological advances in medicine have flourished in the U.S. in general, and in California in particular, medical care the ordinary American, for the poor and the needy, has declined markedly and tragically inthe pasthirty years. She blames primarily two causes: (1) hospital abortions and (2) Medicare and Medicaid. Regarding (1), she claims that, though trained in a tradition where the staff does all that is possible to save and improve human life, post-Roe vs. Wade state demands require hospital staffs to undermine that tradition and that ethic. Again, she insists, federal Medicare and Medicaid have helped change doctors from dedicated professionals (who regularly put patients' welfare first and who incidentally charged the wealthy more in order to finance care for the poor) into clerkly mass-producing entrepreneurs who, surmounting reams of paperwork, systematically inflate their fees (and gain legal protection) by maximizing procedures (and costs) that taxpayers finance. Frequently well-meant programs have on the whole damaged care for the needy.
(Socialized medicine's "free" visits to the doctor seem wonderful -- unless you get sick.)
Or another issue in this election: Public primary and secondary school education in the U.S. has become a national disgrace. Parents rather than professionals generally know best what is good for their children, and parents must be given as far as possible the opportunity to choose what school, and program, is best for their child. States and communities need a school voucher system such as that proposed by George W. Bush; the U.S. cannot afford more money thrown at monopolistic teachers' unions, unions which have until now guaranteed that children must attend a single public school or else pay exorbitant fees for a private school.
In other words, important issues are and have been, along with peace with justice, for example education and care for the elderly and the sick. That is why citizens must work to have these things done wisely, compassionately, and therefore locally. For it is the local parents and teachers and family and loved ones who do it well, and who must be enabled to do it well -- with the resources of a whole caring society at their disposal.
Meanwhile in Israel, the power of the ancient tribal systems, the separate integrity of the offices of king and priest, the institutions indicated e.g. in II Sam. 5: 3 and II Kings 11: 17, all testify to a federal system in the days of the First Temple. In the twentieth century, however, the new Zionist state (created with the help incidentally of numerous Protestants) was founded largely by eastern-European socialists and Marxists. Local institutions brought from Morocco, Yemen, Poland, and recently from Ethiopia, were systematically undermined. As a result, we Jews suffer under an insane system of crippling taxation, where a central sprawling government directly or indirectly sets the interlocking wages of teachers, engineers, garbage collectors, doctors, plus the prices of university and college courses, the cost of medicine. (One should nevertheless confess the mitigating excuse of Israel's need for a strong army, noting sadly the centralizing consequences that accompany prolonged militarism.)
Republicans thank the Almighty that there are hundreds of thousands, millions, of Americans (laboring now in statehouses and legislatures, in the military, on farms, in law offices, academia, in businesses and shops, bureaucracies and places of worship) who could ethically and ably fulfill the duties of the office of President of the United States. Those Republicans who live in Israel however rue the fact that there has never been born a mortal who could justly serve as Israel's Minister of Finance. The latter job's duties are impossibly beyond the possible knowledge and wisdom of any human being.
Strikes over tuition? Addressed to the central government? Shouldn't students instead have been striking the universities or colleges or their administrations or donors (or transferring to another university or college with lower tuition)? Teacher strikes? Doctors' strikes? Railworkers' strikes? Domestic airport strikes? Does any government official, anyone on earth, know what is the just price for a college education? for kindergarten? for an appendectomy? for care for a victim of Alzheimer's? (Unlike almost all other strikes not posing a public danger, strikes against the federal government are generally forbidden in the U.S. -- but fortunately federal government employees still constitute a relatively small portion of the U.S. work force, and they are also relatively well paid.)
Today in Israel an ordinary factory or construction worker receives starvation wages for himself and his family, and he is treated like dirt. (Two summers ago I, with a family of four, received about 3000 NIS for a month's building construction labor, and more than half of that went to a twenty-year mortgage.) Israel's wealth goes to hordes of clerks and managers, who themselves are not overpaid. (But enjoyed here is a narcissistic TV commercial featuring a sweet Israeli child visitor in New York city who altruistically gives flowers to an unnoticed homeless sufferer lying helplessly in a snowy sidewalk. [Implication: American barbarians without socialism let people die in the streets. Comfortably ignored is the percentage of Israel's wretchedly poor; for after all, state socialism is designed for the convenience of rendering personal responsibility superfluous.])
The environment? We in Israel are especially well-situated to understand how centralized rule of environmental issues ("control" like that of the one-time Soviet Union, as of the Aral Sea), leads to environmental disasters. Consider the condition of the Yarkon River in the Maccabee bridge tragedy, or the present status of the coastal aquifers, of Nahal Soreq or of the Sea of Galilee (Kineret). A venerable provision of the old English and U.S. common law enables the party downriver to sue the polluter upriver. The U.S. would be like Siberia had she waited for the federal government to solve her water problems. Recognizing the need of local, state and federal governmental protections for the environment, one should also be aware that Gore's centralizations notwithstanding would help bring the Israelification of the U.S. environment.
No system on earth can function properly for an unjust and cruel citizenry. (All men need a system that encourages personal ethics and compassion.) But no company of saints, geniuses, or socialists could make Israel's "system" (or that of the old Soviet Union, or of Red China) function justly. Accordingly, we must improve government in the U.S., and we Republicans living here, as ethical human beings, must labor to reform the system in Israel.
Just one federalist reform recommended immediately for Israel:
Two similar reforms needed as soon as enabled by political and demographic distribution:
If as a whole Republicans seek less central government involvement in their affairs, they expect more integrity from their leaders. Had William Clinton been a Republican, he would have lost Republican support and would have been impeached and stripped of his powers long ago. (Even Richard Nixon's mistakes [mistakes which cost him Republican support even in the midst of the Vietnam struggle, in the days of costly leaks of diplomatic secrets] were made by men believing [for easily-argued good reason] that they were operating not for personal gain or pleasure, but for the good of their country [and of other countries]. Similarly with Ronald Reagan's dogged activities and near-impeachment by the Democrat-run Congress over Contra financing.
It was also said earlier that millions of Americans are capable of fulfilling ethically and ably the duties of President of the United States. I have seen very little evidence that Albert Gore is one of them -- that is, evidence discounting his being on a twice-elected ticket.
Well noted have been Gore's tendencies to exaggerate ridiculously his achievements or involvement in various ventures. (Note e.g. his claim that he "invented the internet" coupled with his remark, when confronted with the exceedingly convenient loss of subpoenaed files concerning his illegal fund raising activities, that he really doesn't know much about computers.) These incidents likely testify to an overriding ambition which rivals Clinton's in nakedness, if not in cunning. Over and above a certain recognition of the restraints of Realpolitik, Gore has not demonstrated a well-conceived belief system which would limit his undertakings.
Gore did not disavow federal government activities in the Soviet-style Waco and David Korush affair. Gore has not repudiated Clinton's manifest willingness to use foreign affairs and the lives of others for domestic political gain, as in the instances of the timing of the (ineffective, or in Madeleine Albright's phraseology in another context, "counterproductive") bombings of Sudan, etc. Gore's collusion in raising Red Chinese monies for the last presidential elections has been despicable, and his silence about it has been deafening.
As mentioned, then, most Republicans believe that many spheres of social activity are properly off bounds for federal activity. Areas for which the federal government bears heavy responsibility, however, are defense and international relations. George W. Bush, like his Republican predecessors, takes these responsibilities seriously, and would not play them for short-term partisan advantage in U.S. polls.
Importantly to us here in Israel, the strategic threats against Israel have only grown during the last eight years. Saddam Hussein's power and influence, in the face of a few politically convenient Clinton-Gore photo opportunity gestures, have only metastasized in the years since 1992. Albeit with the help of grave mistakes on the part of the Israeli leadership, the last eight years of Clinton and Gore have witnessed betrayal of U.S. and Republican refusal to recognize the then-KGB-sponsored PLO, as well as rejection of U.S. and Republican opposition to the creation of a second Palestinian state in our tiny region. (My world almanac reports that Israel's land area is a little less than that of Kern County, California. [It stretches credibility to believe that two Palestinian states in this area would contribute to regional stability, and it is impossible to imagine how two hostile states could long endure -- and Yasser Arafat and his cohorts in various regional capitals understand that cold fact very well.]) Meanwhile, the U.S. and Israel have involved themselves in a studied, sometimes ludicrous, effort to deny the pivotal role of religion in the current conflict. Now in the last few days, Madeleine Albright has made it a point to remark, with Gore's apparent concurrence, that Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount was "counterproductive." This was in a context of blaming Israel for the recent violence. And on Oct. 9, 2000, the Clinton-Gore administration refused to veto the resolution of the U.N. Security Council condemning Israel's "use of excessive force."
(Incidentally, regarding "grave mistakes on the part of Israeli leadership," one should not forget the Clinton administration's naked intervention in recent elections, even while not forgetting e.g. Ezer Weizman's seemingly financially motivated intervention in the 1980 elections in the U.S.)
Gore has supported the Clinton administration's inadvertent achievements in "killing [Israel] . . . softly, with his song." (In a sage political move meant to provide an ethical cover and designed to win hordes of pro-Israel conservative Protestant votes in the midwest and West, however, Gore has enlisted another court Jew to join him, a Jew who supports state financing of abortions, who has now backtracked on advocacy of school vouchers, who has retreated on moving of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, etc., etc. [My wish is that Joseph Lieberman return to his earlier quest to reconstitute the Democrat Party, but from his base as Senator from Connecticut -- and then perhaps as nominee for President].)
Despite his necessary disavowal of a radical transformation of U.S. relations with regional powers, President Bush will face delicate and formidable tasks in overcoming the Clinton administration's blunders and the immediately opportunistic drift of U.S. foreign policy. It will now be extremely difficult for him to keep his repeated commitments to a strong, independent, and territorially viable Israel, and to obey the Republican Congress' injunction to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem swiftly. But he will do so.
In short, I plan to vote for George W. Bush for president because he will extend the path of the greatest, most positive, president of the U.S. during the 20th Century: Ronald Reagan.