line art illustration: two Jews argue with the Golden Gate bridge in the background. one, a man, is wearing a red Trump kippah. the other, a woman, is wearing a blue Biden kippah and wearing a facemask.
The cover art for J.'s Oct. 16, 2020, print issue is an original illustration by artist Kurt Hoffman. Click here to subscribe to J.'s biweekly print edition.

Divided we vote, but our Jewish bonds prevail

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After four years of unprecedented political tumult, a moment of great reckoning is just around the corner: Election Day. It is time for America to choose between Donald Trump and Joe Biden for the highest office in the land.

Partisans on both sides agree that this is the most consequential election in modern U.S. history. The results will determine for generations, and perhaps forever, the kind of country we will have. The outcome will say much about who we are as a people.

“Divided We Vote,” our two-part print cover package this week, explores what Trump and Biden voters in the Bay Area Jewish community are thinking.

In Part One, we hear from a Trump supporter who approves of the president’s “straight talk” and says “there’s a lot more Jewish support for the Trump administration and Republicans in general.” And in Part Two, a Biden supporter tells us that as a Jew she does not “feel completely safe under Trump’s administration, which encourages white supremacy groups and fuels hate.”

The two sides obviously disagree vehemently on President Trump’s record, but our reporting shows something fascinating about these voters. They share a common bond of Jewish culture, religious tradition and outlook. One cannot help but recognize a Jewish brother or sister among those on “the opposite side.”

It’s important to remember that fact, especially now.

The intense fury felt by so many Americans at this time threatens to rip the fabric of a free and fair election, if not American democracy. The prospect of voters being intimidated at the polls by an “army” of “poll watchers,” the placement of fake ballot drop-off boxes, and the reports of hours-long waits at early polling places all are adding to the anxiety already felt by many in the run-up to Nov. 3.

It seems Americans are irreparably divided, and before the next president is sworn in, we may experience social upheaval that will make what 2020 has already dished out seem like child’s play.

But we want to offer up an alternate scenario.

What if, instead of resigning themselves to chaos, Americans of every political stripe remember that a free and fair election is the bedrock of democracy? What if both sides just for a moment recall that those “horrible” supporters of the other guy are, in fact, fellow citizens and, within our community, fellow Jews?

It’s not an act of pollyannaish ignorance to contemplate such a scenario. The only way to make America great again is by returning to a collective dedication to civic duty, civil discourse and acceptance of election outcomes fairly decided.

There is no reason to expect the two sides to surrender their principles and political views. But there is every reason to demand that all Americans acknowledge that, in a democracy, voters have the last word.

Please, vote. It is essential that you make your voice count.

J. Editorial Board

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