Trump victory demands we take a hard look at ourselves

Donald Trump’s electoral victory this week shattered expectations, defied the polls and showed us an America that is more deeply divided than many might have thought. This is not a “new America.” It is the America we have, that many of us choose not to see.

Trump’s victory, the success of a campaign that many saw as bombastic and jingoistic, revealed the real frustrations many Americans have with an economy that no longer makes good on its postwar promise of middle-class prosperity. It underscored many Americans’ distrust of the “Washington elite” and a largely liberal media they feel does not represent their values.

While these fears and frustrations are largely invisible to the Jewish community, which is clustered in urban centers on both coasts and tends to vote Democratic, that community must now open its eyes and ask: What are these grievances? How can we listen and respond to them? Which are legitimate, and which reveal fears and prejudices that we must address and work to overcome?

Jewish support for Hillary Clinton was strong during this campaign, per tradition. Fully 70 percent of the Jewish vote went to her, mirroring past Jewish support for the Democratic presidential candidate. But that narrative masks the quiet dissatisfaction those 25 percent of American Jews who voted for the Republican shared with other Trump supporters, and it behooves the rest of us to take stock of our own community, its fears and its concerns.

Around the country, rabbis have been fielding calls from congregants shocked by the election results. Some synagogues and other Jewish institutions have opened their doors to the community, including here in the Bay Area, as we detail in this week’s cover story.

The message is: This is no time to demonize each other, but to listen and learn.

In its congratulatory message to president-elect Trump this week, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations pledged, as did other national Jewish groups, to get down to the task of healing the divides revealed by this vitriol-filled campaign. It also reminded us that the strength of this great nation lies in the American people’s dedication to the democratic process, which worked this week as it was meant to.

The people have spoken. The votes have been counted. It is time for sober reflection, for reaching out to each other even as we remember what we stand for, as Jews and as Americans — a society that takes care of its people and those around the world who cannot take care of themselves, that values freedom, justice and equality. A nation that works together to make the world better.



J. Editorial Board

The J. Editorial Board pens editorials as the voice of J.