Rabbi Wolpe, Iran, and One-Issue Voting
by Rabbi Rick Brody
A brief, mostly dispassionate attempt at objectively evaluating
the pragmatic value of one-issue voting.
The very eloquent Rabbi David Wolpe weighs in on his concern for averting nuclear disaster.
My quick take: All his concerns are valid, but is the person occupying the oval office really going to make the biggest difference in addressing this concern–and is it really even possible to distinguish the way in which the two current options for that role would be able to do so? I don’t see it. I’m sure they would both handle the gravest of threats on this matter–as presented to them by a multitude of advisors and many non-partisan professionals within State, Defense, NSA, etc.–in pretty much the same way when push comes to shove. Well, I have less trust, in general, in one of the candidates, but I don’t see this issue as necessarily being the one where he’d totally drop the ball. Nor do I see the one whom I trust more being so radically more pronounced in his personal ability to address this issue over anyone else that it would affect my voting decision. Right now, I’d say that any “evidence” to use in judging these two individuals’ ability to make a significant difference on this issue is, mostly, rather empty rhetoric (which is probably also the case for the things Iran says, though certainly the free world must prepare for the very real possibility that the crazy leaders there–and anyone, even crazier, within their reach–would indeed match their bark with bite).
I’d be more convinced about being a one-issue voter on something like judicial appointments. But even there time and again the reality is that the older justices hang on until there’s a president in place whom they can feel comfortable about appointing a likeminded successor to their seat. So the only real concern for you as a voter then is the possibility of an unexpected death or incapacitating illness of one of the judges you like. This scenario still seems more likely than the likelihood of one possible president treating the Iran threat completely differently than another possible president.
There are probably other issues and concerns where people can make some convincing arguments about the direct role a president can and will play and the ways we can know well enough how each option will definitively respond differently to the matter at hand. My first thought was judicial appointments. I’d be curious to hear other ideas.
So, from a purely pragmatic perspective, while Rabbi Wolpe’s deep concern for averting disaster is one that I can’t see anyone disagreeing with, I don’t see how it connects realistically to the choice of president.