Two weeks ago, Jewish Journal blogger Tamara Shayne Kagel wrote a piece titled, “I Don’t Want to Date a Republican!”
Apparently, a nightmare of hers has been realized — she has fallen in love with a Republican. One can truly apply the famous Yiddish dictum here: “Man plans and God laughs.”
In addition to the larger question — can a liberal and conservative truly love and have a successful marriage? — Tamara’s piece raises a number of other interesting issues.
She writes that one reason she was sure she would never experience the “terror” of dating a Republican is that “I don’t even know very many Republicans.”
I admire Tamara’s honesty. But given that about half the country votes Republican, this fact is worthy of note.
How would a liberal react to a conservative Christian writing in a Christian journal, “I don’t even know very many Democrats”? Presumably, he or she would assume that this person had led a cloistered and insular life. And they would be right.
But isn’t this also true of many liberal Jews?
I grew up in New York, and I realized at a young age that, for all intents and purposes, I was living in a liberal Jewish ghetto. I rarely met non-Jews and do not recall ever meeting a conservative, Jew or non-Jew (certainly not at Columbia University).
I came to realize how insular New York City was. What really blew my mind was that liberal New Yorkers considered themselves among the most universal, cosmopolitan, worldly and intellectually open people in America.
Yet, these people socialized with, dined with, read, listened to and married people who agreed with them on virtually every significant issue of life. If the archetypical New York Jewish liberal, Woody Allen, had to spend a week alone in a small town in Idaho or Alabama, he would probably feel as if he had traveled in a time machine or been transported to a foreign culture. He would feel much more at home in Oslo or Paris even if he didn’t speak a word of Norwegian or French.
It was one of the revelations of my early life that a Tennessee or Montana conservative was far more familiar with liberals and liberalism than a New York or Los Angeles liberal was with conservatives and conservatism.
That is a major reason the U.S. attorney arguing on behalf of the ObamaCare mandate could not effectively respond to conservative justices’ challenges — liberals don’t bother learning conservative arguments. As Tamara notes: “I grew up knowing very few Republicans and the rare ones I did know got made fun [of] behind their backs, be it children or adults. ... [In law school], I rarely interacted with those others [Republicans] who met with our derision.”
The liberal learns from a young age that conservatives and their ideas are not to be taken seriously. Both are worthy only of “derision.”
So, Tamara is in a quandary. She has actually fallen in love with one of those people she learned to deride.
Adding to her cognitive dissonance, this Republican has “a big generous heart.” That must really vex Tamara — aren’t conservatives greedy and far less compassionate than liberals?
For all these reasons, Tamara candidly concedes: “I can’t date a Republican! What was I thinking? What if I have little Republican babies?”
This, too, is worthy of note. For most liberal Jews, intermarriage is not necessarily marriage between a Jew and a non-Jew, but between a liberal and a conservative — even if both are Jews.
I do not disparage this. I have long argued that for most Jews on the left, Judaism is their ethnicity, and leftism is their religion. So, they would understandably view a marriage with a non-leftist in essentially the same way a religious Jew would view a marriage with a non-Jew: as an interfaith marriage.
Tamara is therefore on to something. There is a huge ideological gulf between right and left. Just to cite one example, I would have found it very hard to marry a woman who was passionate about keeping all murderers alive and thought that Israel was therefore immoral in executing Adolf Eichmann.
So I respect Tamara’s skepticism when her boyfriend “keeps saying we can always find common ground.” And she is certainly right when she writes, “I love watching [Mary Matalin and James Carville] but I don’t want to fight like that in my home. I want my home to be a place of tranquility and calm.”
The truth is that, if Tamara marries her Republican boyfriend and continues to believe that it is “always the Republican party that nominates idiots,” it is hard to imagine such a tranquil home. Unless, of course, one of them converts. Which may happen. While single women (and blacks) are the most reliable Democratic voting bloc, married women, especially married women with children, are among the most reliable Republican voters.
I wish them well.
Dennis Prager’s nationally syndicated radio talk show is heard in Los Angeles on KRLA (AM 870) 9 a.m. to noon. His latest project is the Internet-based Prager University (prageru.com).