It’s Hebrew for, “repair the world.”
There’s some room for interpretation as to what that fundamentally means. In my Jewish perspective, it means I have a duty to try and leave the world better than I found it. It means I have a responsibility to try to make things better. And for me, the first step is to “do no harm.”
Ethically speaking, we’ve seen a moral dilemma arise from this election within the Democratic Party. The schism between Bernie Sanders’ and Hillary Clinton’s camps is especially troubling. In my own social echo chamber, I’m seeing far too many Sanders stumpers switching to Jill Stein — the Green Party candidate.
On its surface, the reasoning is logical. The conspiracy of collusion between Clinton’s camp and the DNC is nothing short of reprehensible — whether or not it actually affected the final outcome of the primary process. It was a violation of trust on the greatest magnitude. At best, it sent a resounding message to Democrats that the party of inclusion was in fact under the thumb of a small clique of exclusionists. And at worst, that our votes didn’t matter.
It couldn’t have come at worse time — we had the moral high ground in this race against a racist demagogue who had demonstrated nothing but terrible judgment, bullying tactics, ghastly misogyny and flat-out xenophobia throughout his entire campaign. This DNC email scandal undercut all of us.
And the worst part is it enraged the Bernie camp beyond just the anger they felt at mishandled primaries and caucuses. Here was their smoking gun. As a Bernie Sanders fan since before he officially announced, and someone who donated far more than the $27 his campaign averaged per donation, I’m beyond disappointed. I’m disgusted. I’m incensed.
And I’m With Her.
Let me be clear — I never thought Hillary was as bad as her detractors have made her out to be. I honestly think she’s found a lot of ways to compromise in order to make the best out of tough situations over the years, and the fact that the more liberal among us smells too much Wall Street on her while the more conservative side of the GOP thinks she’s a socialist is probably a solid illustration of that point. Politics is a very hard place for idealists to be successful.
Like it or not, however, Hillary is what we have. And on the other side is Trump. We’ve all heard the comparisons. My personal favorite is the meme that said, “Bernie Sanders voters deciding not to vote for Hillary is like going to a restaurant and ordering Coke, only to be told they only serve Pepsi, so instead you just drink a cup of bleach.”
And yes, self-preservation is definitely a key reason why Hillary is still 100 times better than Trump.
But more than that — voting for Hillary, in my estimation, is a Jewish commandment now. Tikkun olam.
We’ve already seen the fallout of what Trump’s campaign has wrought. The divisiveness is a chasm. Racism is louder and uglier. The man himself has tweeted out vile anti-Semitic rhetoric and imagery cribbed from known neo-nazi websites. He mocks the disabled. He’s running the most despicable campaign of my lifetime. At his core, he is a bad person who has never demonstrated loyalty to anything or anyone other than his own personal interests.
We know the two-party system we are faced with. We know what happens when someone plays spoiler, as Ralph Nader did to Al Gore in 2000. We saw what happened to our nation and the world under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. There is no way a third party candidate — on any ticket — gets elected to the Oval Office in this election.
And yet, anti-Hillary democrats say the time is now to stick to their principles. That they can’t “in good conscience,” vote for her.
And I say, sometimes, doing the right thing feels wrong at the time.
Doing good isn’t simply a series of binary, yes/no decisions. Doing the right thing isn’t done in a vacuum. Doing the right thing based on a principled stand — as righteous and principled a stand as it may be — may still be very much doing the wrong thing.
We may not feel like we can trust Hillary all the way. We know what she says she’s going to do. And we know what the people who believe in her — and if you’re a Bernie Sanders supporter, you have people you deeply love who support Hillary — say she’s going to do.
But we know, absolutely, objectively, that we cannot trust Donald Trump to lead this nation. And it’s precisely because of the things he’s done and the things he said he wants to do. We can take him at his word on those. The question remains, just how much havoc can he wreak if elected? And will that finally convince the U.S. electorate to make fundamental change? Sure, there is potential upside in that scenario.
But we are not supposed to be a people who destroy in order to rebuild. That’s the bottom line, right? That’s ultimately what the Bernie Or Bust movement is peddling at this point: Let the system collapse so we can start over.
I can’t get behind that. That’s how things used to be once. But that isn’t our way now. We are better than this. It’s why Bernie himself is With Her. He knows that our way of life is too precious to play such a long shot on. It’s too important to gamble with.
So when you step into a voting booth in November — in an election with one open Supreme Court seat and potentially three more to be filled — flipping the lever to Hillary is crucial. And it’s a holy mitzvah.