Monday , January 27 2020
Home / Paul Krugman / Donald Trump Is Bad for the Jews

Donald Trump Is Bad for the Jews

Summary:
On Saturday Donald Trump gave a speech to the Israeli American Council in which he asserted that many in his audience were “not nice people at all,” but that “you have to vote for me” because Democrats would raise their taxes.Was he peddling an anti-Semitic stereotype, portraying Jews as money-grubbing types who care only about their wealth? Of course he was. You might possibly make excuses for his remarks if they were an isolated instance, but in fact Trump has done this sort of thing many times, for example asserting in 2015 that Jews weren’t supporting him because he wasn’t accepting their money and “you want to control your politicians.”Well, it’s not news that Trump’s bigotry isn’t restricted to blacks and immigrants. What is interesting, however, is that this particular anti-Semitic

Topics:
Paul Krugman considers the following as important:

This could be interesting, too:

Bradford DeLong writes Simulating the Solow Growth Model

Bradford DeLong writes Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality 2020-01-26 23:42:37

Tyler Cowen writes Sunday assorted links

Tyler Cowen writes Coronavirus information and analysis bleg

On Saturday Donald Trump gave a speech to the Israeli American Council in which he asserted that many in his audience were “not nice people at all,” but that “you have to vote for me” because Democrats would raise their taxes.

Was he peddling an anti-Semitic stereotype, portraying Jews as money-grubbing types who care only about their wealth? Of course he was. You might possibly make excuses for his remarks if they were an isolated instance, but in fact Trump has done this sort of thing many times, for example asserting in 2015 that Jews weren’t supporting him because he wasn’t accepting their money and “you want to control your politicians.”

Well, it’s not news that Trump’s bigotry isn’t restricted to blacks and immigrants. What is interesting, however, is that this particular anti-Semitic cliché — that Jews are greedy, and that their political behavior is especially driven by their financial interests — is empirically dead wrong. In fact, American Jews are much more liberal than you might expect given their economic situation.

This is, by the way, a distinction they share with some other groups, especially Asian-Americans. More on that in a minute.

First, some background. The two major political parties in the U.S. really are very different in their policies toward the rich. President Barack Obama was hardly a radical, but when he left office the average federal tax rate on the top 1 percent was 5 percentage points higher than it had been under George W. Bush. In 2016 Trump claimed that he wouldn’t do the usual Republican thing and cut taxes on the rich while trying to destroy the safety net. But he was lying.

And despite what right-wing pundits like to claim, high-income Americans are in general much more likely than others to support the Republican Party. In last year’s midterms, 52 percent of voters with incomes over $200,000 voted Republican, compared with only 38 percent of voters with incomes under $50,000. The rightward tilt is especially strong at the very top; although there are a few high-profile liberal billionaires, most of the extremely wealthy are also extremely right-wing.

Given these realities, you might expect American Jews, who are in fact considerably more affluent than the average, to lean right. But they don’t. In fact, only 17 percent of them voted Republican last year.

In other words, American Jews aren’t the uniquely greedy, self-interested characters anti-Semites imagine them to be. But it would be foolish to make the opposite mistake and imagine that Jews are especially public-spirited; they’re just people, with the same virtues and vices as everyone else. I think it was an Israeli friend who first told me that Judaism, unlike other faiths, has rarely been a religion of oppression — but that the reason was simply lack of opportunity, a diagnosis that recent Israeli governments seem determined to confirm.

An aside: American Jews almost all support Israel, but many don’t support the policies of its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. But that’s presumably a distinction Trump doesn’t understand, at home or abroad.

Back to the question of what makes U.S. Jews politically different. Much of the answer is historical memory. Most of us, I think, know that whenever bigotry runs free, we’re likely to be among its victims.

The Trump administration is, beyond any reasonable doubt, an anti-democratic, white nationalist regime. And while it is not (yet) explicitly anti-Semitic, many of its allies are: “Jews will not replace us” chanted the “very fine people” carrying torches in Charlottesville, Va. You have to be willfully ignorant of the past not to know where all this leads. Indeed, it’s happening already: anti-Semitic incidents have soared (and my hate mail has gotten … interesting).

Jews aren’t the only people who have figured this out. Many Asian-American voters used to support Republicans, but the group is now overwhelmingly Democratic. Indian-Americans, in particular, are like American Jews: a high-income, high-education group that votes Democratic by large margins, presumably because many of its members also realize where white nationalism will take us.

In all of this, Republicans — not just Trump, but his whole party — are reaping what they sowed. Their strategy for decades has been to win votes from working-class whites, despite an anti-worker agenda, by appealing to racial resentment. Trump has just made that racial appeal cruder and louder. And one has to admit that this strategy has been quite successful.

But it takes, well, chutzpah, a truly striking level of contempt for your audience, to foment hatred-laced identity politics, then turn to members of minority groups and say, in effect, “Ignore the bigotry and look at the taxes you’re saving!”

And some of the audience deserves that contempt. As I said, people are pretty much the same whatever their background. There are wealthy Jews who are sufficiently shortsighted, ignorant or arrogant enough to imagine that they can continue to prosper under a white nationalist government.

But most of my ethnic group, I believe, understands that Trump is bad for the Jews, whatever tax bracket we happen to be in.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: [email protected].

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.

Paul Krugman
Paul Robin Krugman (born February 28, 1953) is an American economist, Distinguished Professor of Economics at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and an op-ed columnist for The New York Times. In 2008, Krugman won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his contributions to New Trade Theory and New Economic Geography.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *