A non-Israel reason for Jews to vote Republican

An abridged version of this post appeared in FrumForum.  Stephen Richer is a co-founder and director of Gather the Jews.  The opinion expressed below belongs solely to Stephen Richer — not to Gather the Jews.


As noted in a FrumForum post by Fred Messner, the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) insists that Israel remain a topic of debate.  After all, given the President’s recent “67 borders speech,” and opinion articles like Charles Krauthammer’s “What Obama Did to Israel,” Israel might put a few American Jews into the Republican camp.  (Also see, e.g. Alan Dershowitz, “Obama Explains – And Makes It Worse,” Brett Stephens, “An Anti-Israel President,” Robert Satloff, “Obama Walking a Fine Line on Borders Issue.”)

But though Israel will undoubtedly be the centerpiece of the Republican strategy for winning American Jews, Israel is by no means the only card in the Republican Jewish hand.  Judged by traditional Jewish values and interests, the Republican Party does quite well across the board, from foreign to domestic.

The kind editors of FrumForum permitting, I will address one issue each Friday (posted before Shabbos of course!) on which the Republican Party has a strong claim to being the better Jewish pick.

Today, consider quotas, taking higher education as the example.

Prior to the 1920s, Ivy League schools admitted students through a simple exam – if you passed, you were admitted.  Jews excelled, and by 1925, Jews accounted for 28 percent of Harvard and 14 percent of Yale, despite being only two to three percent of the general population.  Years, later Harvard imposed a quota limiting the number of Jewish students to 15 percent, and Yale put its limitations at 10 percent.

In today’s educational world, no quotas limit Jewish enrollment per se.  However, by mandating a (unjustifiably large) percentage of other racial and ethnic groups  – a quota – Jews (and Asians) are squeezed out of spots they would get if admissions were based solely on merit – scores and grades.  Regarding the Michigan affirmative action case of the early 2000s, Judge Danny Boggs, “noted that ‘a significant proportion’ of the Michigan law school applicants who lose out because of ‘diversity’ preferences are Jewish.  Though the plan is pro-minority, not anti-Semitic, it reduced the number of Jews much the same way anti-Semitic Ivy League admissions policies did the in 1930s.”

Judge Boggs further claimed that, “the law school and the court will certainly deny this, but that is where the figures unavoidably lead us” because Jews now represent two percent of the population and 23 percent of the Ivy League and other competitive institutions (including University of Michigan).

In short, in a racially blind system that judged solely on merit as measured by test scores and GPAs, Jews would rise above even 23 percent.  But in a society with quotas, high-scoring Jews get squeezed out by lower-scoring students from racially preferred backgrounds.  Though this phenomenon is perhaps most apparent in higher education, it affects Jews in other competitive environments that use quota systems – be it in the corporate board room or in racially redrawn electoral districts.

And who supports such quota systems?  Many people; but Democrats do to a far greater extent than Republicans.  In the 5-4 Michigan affirmative action ruling, all four justices opposing racial preferences were Republican appointees.  Chief Justice Rehnquist’s quote from the case accurately reflects the sentiment of many conservatives:  “Stripped of its ‘critical mass’ veil, the law school’s program is revealed as a naked effort to achieve racial balancing.”

By contrast, liberal democrats such as Nancy Pelosi fight to keep quotas in school and seek to put quotas in new domains such as financial provisions of Dodd Frank.

As noted by Earl Raab, Jews have always latched onto the American ideal that “all ethnic groups have the right to be rewarded on individual merit, regardless of ethnicity.”  The Republican Party embodies this meritocratic model more than Democrats do.


4 replies
  1. B
    B says:

    Affirmative action is not the same as a quota. A quick Google search shows that U of Michigan Law School accepted less than 21% of its applicants in 2009. Undoubtedly, many of the 79% of applicants denied entry were qualified for admission, but the admissions office had to make some hard choices. In an effort to craft a diverse class, surely it is desirable to ensure that a sufficient number of qualified minority candidates are accepted.

    “In short, in a racially blind system…”- There is no such thing as a racially blind system. We all are human, and the system does not easily promote minority candidates without intervention. That is the whole purpose of affirmative action.

    “But in a society with quotas, high-scoring Jews get squeezed out by lower-scoring students from racially preferred backgrounds. “- This is not what affirmative action is supposed to do. Again, the idea of affirmative action is to give extra points to qualified minorities. It is counter-productive to hire or accept someone who is unqualified for the position.

    • Kendall
      Kendall says:

      In an effort to craft a diverse class, surely it is desirable to ensure that a sufficient number of qualified minority candidates are accepted.

      You make the base assumption that we SHOULD be always, in all cases, trying to be be “crafting a diverse class” instead of crafting a class of intellectual equals.

      It is not desirable at all that race be taken into consideration insofar as any superior candidates are discarded. You could perhaps make a case that given a choice between two equally qualified candidates you should make the more “diverse” selection, but I don’t see how you can defend any model that ends up dumbing down a student body in what is supposed to be a place of higher education.

      “There is no such thing as a racially blind system.”

      Of course there is. If all you did was allow selection by a set of numbers like SAT scores that would be racially blind.

      Now as I said I don’t think perfect racial blindness is required, simply that intellectual qualification for a university slot be considered ahead of race.

      In the end this is also far less demeaning to students, who will know they belong there because they truly deserved it rather than being #10 in a mandatory ten-slot list of Eastern European beet farmers and forever wondering how the really compare intellectually to those around them.

  2. Stephen Mendelsohn
    Stephen Mendelsohn says:


    Circumcision should also be a Jewish Republican issue. The Left is the home of intactivist antisemitism. So far, most Democrats have not embraced intactivism, but their “woman’s body, woman’s right” position on abortion has added fuel to the fire, aiding and abetting intactivists who claim, “His Body, His Choice.”


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