Ten Factors of Importance to American Jews
By Steven Windmueller, Ph.D.
As this nation prepares for the 2020 election, it is important to explore the major trends, issues and practices that will shape this nation’s political culture.
Here are a few observations:
- The 2020 Presidential campaign will be amongst the most historically significant and politically divisive. This will possibly be also the most expensive presidential campaign in American history. The 2012 presidential election (Obama vs. Romney) cost nearly $3 billion.
- As the impact of technology continues to expand, much of the 2020 campaign will be managed on social media, making it the first election to employ all of the various media options
- Anti-Semitic rhetoric will play a role in the 2020 campaign, as the Alt Right and the anti-Israel left will seek to raise issues concerning Jewish influence. In what ways will candidates themselves raise the issue of anti-Semitism?
- Jews will play a series of significant and highly visible roles as candidates in 2020 but also as political analysts, campaign funders, community organizers and engaged voters.
- As in each of the past number of presidential campaigns, “swing” state Jewish voters, especially in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, will be targeted by both political parties.
- As party platforms serve to help frame the presidential candidate’s views and priorities, how will both political parties address the issues of Israel and anti-Semitism?
- As in 2018, we are likely to see a significant number of Jewish candidates running for office at all levels of government. As an example, in the 116th Congress, 6% of those serving (34 members) and 8% of the United States Senate are Jewish.
- While Americans over the past several decades have not been turning out to vote, will we see a record turn out in 2020? In 2016 various segments of Jewish voters “sat out” that election, are we likely to see a similar pattern this year?
- 2020 will feature the introduction of Gen Z voters, as for the first time in American history younger voters will numerically play a more dominant role than older voters.
- As we secure the 2020 Census results, these are likely to be some of the key findings:
- California, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Michigan are each likely to lose Congressional seats; all blue states with significant Jewish populations. This will mark the first time in California’s history, that it will be losing a seat, as there is a population exodus from the Golden State.
- Florida, Texas, Arizona and North Carolina, all red or purple states, are scheduled to pick up new Congressional seats, while traditional blue and purple states of the Midwest continue to show a population decline.
- Colorado, Montana, and Oregon will each likely add new Congressional Districts.
- The South is today the fastest growing part of the country.
- The United States is experiencing the slowest population growth in its history, resulting in this nation becoming an aging society.
- Net international migration fell to less than 600,000 between 2018 and 2019, down from more than a million in 2016, marking the lowest rate of new Americans in this nation’s history.
Jews, along with the rest of the American electorate, will be considering the underlying issues that will drive the 2020 election. Introduced below are some of the core themes that will shape this nation and its politics:
- This election is about our American character and our national destiny, namely “what kind of American society will we become?” This contest will determine the types of justices and judges who will define and shape our legal system and political culture.
- It is also about civility, the rule of law, and the role of a free press. How we should operate as a democracy.
- This contest is also about the place of government in our lives? We must decide what should or should not be the responsibility of the state in matters of health care, education, and housing.
- It is also about our role in the world. How we relate to our allies and manage our relations with our opponents?
Dr. Steven Windmueller is the Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Service at the Jack H. Skirball Campus of HUC-JIR in Los Angeles. His writings can be found on his website, www.thewindreport.com.