Campaigns, Candidates and Commandments

Gabe Fleisher

By Gabe Fleisher

As we all know, in just three short weeks, many Americans will face a very tough choice. As many as 150 million people across the country will go to their local polling places and fill in the oval next to either President Barack Obama or his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. Approximately 3.9 million Jews will also take to the polls on Nov. 6, and this time around the Jewish vote is coveted on both sides.

But who should the Jewish population vote for? Which candidate really embodies our Jewish values? To find out, I went to the holy Ten Commandments. The tablet may have been given to our people by God many years ago, but I found out that we can still tie in a few Jewish laws to life today.

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Commandment 5 is one I’m reminded of quite a bit: “Honor thy father and thy mother.” There’s many ways to think about this, and one way is how our government helps our elders. Medicare, America’s health care plan for those 65 and older since 1965, has been a hot topic in this election since Romney chose Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate. Ryan is known as the author of the controversial Republican Budget that would turn Medicare into a voucher program. Now, Democrats are hitting Romney, claiming he wants to destroy Medicare. In turn, Republicans are claiming Obama tried to cut $716 billion from Medicare for healthcare reform. On Medicare, this is a big choice between two different candidates, both ready to make our elders a decisive issue at the debates.

The next commandment, Number 6, says “Thou shalt not murder.” This reminded me of another set of 10 laws: the Bill of Rights. Amendment 2 is the one that protects our “right…to keep and bear arms.” Again, both candidates disagree. Three months after the shooting in Tucson, that left six dead and 13 wounded, including former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., President Obama wrote an op-ed piece on gun control. In the article, Obama said that we should “check someone’s criminal record before he can check out at a gun seller; that an unbalanced man shouldn’t be able to buy a gun so easily…” While running for the U.S. Senate in 1994, Romney campaigned on the same principals of background checks. Now, 18 years later, Romney’s campaign website says he “does not believe that the United States needs additional laws that restrict the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.” While Obama has not paid much attention to gun control as President, it is possible that laws allowing more gun ownership could become a part of a Romney administration.

One of my favorite commandments is 9, “Thou shalt not bear false witness…” In this election cycle, after every speech, every debate, and every ad, newspapers immediately jump to fact checking. It’s not just Obama. And it’s not just Romney. All of our elected officials, Democrats and Republicans, should honor our 9th commandment. When candidates go to a podium, Americans deserve honesty.

As we conclude the election season, and you decide who to vote for, you can think back to the Ten Commandments. Think back to our laws, our Torah, and our stories. Maybe these great words from thousands of years ago can affect your grand decision of who to vote for.