It’s from Shakespeare, but I drag it out to describe my dilemma in the voting booth. A plague on both your houses! Along with a feh! The Republicans are right as rain when it comes to issues about Israel. Strangely, the right gets it right: Israel is indeed the home of the brave and the land of the free. It takes courage to live upon the Holy Land (I believe all land is holy, and I mean that literally. The earth, like the sea and the sky, is sacred, if you believe in Bereshit.) And you are free in Israel to use your freedom among many life choices, along numerous and various pathways.
My only quarrel with the Republican viewpoint is that their platform doesn’t deal, as I wish it would, with the liberty of the landscape. Not everything must be for human use, personal profit or even private comfort.
I hate “fracking,” although I do understand its advantages in the short run: contempt for Eden is nevertheless a vile insult to Creation. The answer, for me and from what I recall from my generation’s ideals, hides in conservation, in plain thrift. If the Republicans could lay claim to the legacy of Abe Lincoln, with his proverbial log cabin like Thoreau’s shack at his local, nearby pond … if the Republicans could summon up the spirit of Theodore Roosevelt with his embrace of wilderness and his design of simple stone lodges accessible only by burros … if the Republicans could admire small businessmen and businesswomen instead of giant corporations … their support of Israel would further gain popular appeal.
As for the Democratic platform, I would wish their words to be more frank and open. Although we have a person of color in the White House, why does he not recognize that Israel was the only nation upon our planet ever to invite an impoverished and desperate people – the Falasha folk of Ethiopia, with their derivation from the Queen of Sheba and their Queen Judith of a later era, both with their follower tribes of color – to return to Jerusalem, the city of their dreams and memories?
Although the probable choice for the next Democratic candidate for the prized presidency will be a woman, nevertheless there is never a word of criticism regarding the plight of women among the nations surrounding Israel. Oh, the tolerance of intolerance! The concession to the ancient tradition of blaming everything upon the Jews, whenever there is unrest and uncertainty at all the four corners of the inhabited carpet of “civilization.”
And then, in our culture of confrontation, there is no truly lively conversation between the Democrats and the Republicans, only evasive brags and boasts, insults and assaults, like some crude duel in a bygone era or an overblown Hollywood epic.
Sadly, alas, our national intelligence, like that of the entire world beyond our shores, is in our inventions. They are wretched inventions for death or for further pollution and diminishment of the noble, even biblical, landscape – not for a voting public of sensitivity, knowledge and imagination. Even our entertainment is a diminished thing, the lowering level, the dumbing down, the numbing down. That’s why I say, a plague on both your houses. It was, as some among us may remember, said by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to that most eloquent of labor leaders, John L. Lewis, who answered thus. “Labor, like Israel, has many enemies.” We studied that moment when Lewis then withdrew his support from the Democratic party and joined the Republicans, but only briefly. You can’t stick with one platform. Mix and match and hope for the best.
For our Holy Land, Eretz Israel, with its glorious past and its wondrous present. And with an eye out to its future among the nations of the world of tomorrow. And for all its flora and fauna to share.
MIKE FINK (firstname.lastname@example.org) teaches at RISD.