Friday, April 20, 2007

Is God a Republican?

A few weeks ago, David Klinghoffer wrote an article titled "Is God a Republican?" (link). To the dismay of my one or two liberal readers, let me say that I like Klinghoffer. He's a good writer, a thoughtful person and someone who tries to inform his life and politics with Judaism. I often find myself agreeing with him. Often, but not always. On this issue, I find his arguments to be way off.

In this article, Klinghoffer tries to make the case that the Torah philosophically supports the conservative social agenda. Liberals supposedly believe that people have no free will and are forced by nature to do certain things, while conservatives believe that people have free will and should suffer the consequences. Thus, conservatives oppose gun control because people are not compelled by nature to use guns to kill. People are not trapped by their skin colors but have opportunity before them; therefore affirmative action is wrong. Regarding health care (and presumably retirement plans), we should let people decide and not force them into anything.

These kinds of arguments are, in my opinion, all wrong. I believe the same argument can be made for any political party. Maybe Klinghoffer is merely trying to offset the Reform idea that "Prophetic Judaism" supports the Democratic Party. I don't know. But I find Klinghoffer's argument to be farfetched.

For example, an argument could be made that the Torah gives each individual the choice whether to be righteous or not. Therefore, all decisions should be left to the individual. In other words, God is a Libertarian. Abortion should be left to the individual (woman and doctor) because God gives us the choice whether to maim/kill or not. Global warming? It's up to each individual whether or not to sin and pollute the environment.

Or the argument can be made that, historically, the Torah community has created communal charities and forced individuals to contribute to the them, i.e. welfare. The Bible is full of chastisements against the community for insufficiently caring for the poor and looking out for the weak. God must be a Democrat because he certainly wants us to protect the poor. Recall that, despite every individual's freedom of choice, the Torah prescribes severe punishments on sinners and requires that communities appoint judges to ensure that everyone follows the laws.

On the other hand, considering the corruption and lying in the political parties, perhaps God is an independent.

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