For so many of us, the past few days have been largely enveloped in pain-filled conversations about the results of our election and their meaning about and for our nation. For both myself and JCRC, as part of a larger community – both Jewish and in civil society – we are beginning to imagine what our work will require of us in the coming years. I do hope you’ve read our message from Wednesday.
In this moment, I remind myself that even as our system of government has elected Donald Trump, it is a victory achieved without a popular vote mandate over his opponent. President Obama has set the tone this week, reminding us that the strength of our constitutional liberal democracy lies in the peaceful transition of power.
While our government will change – in ways we understand and in some ways that we cannot yet know – I want to reflect on what has not changed for JCRC.
Our values have not changed, not as a Jewish community and not as JCRC.
70% of Jewish voters chose a different path for the future of our nation than the one we are now embarking on. That’s a higher percentage than those in our community who voted for President Obama four years ago.
And if our values inspired us to fight for a shared vision for America last year, we are no less compelled by those same values as we pursue our aspirations for our nation going forward. We were opposed to misogyny last year, and we will fight to protect women’s equality this year and next. We believed in our nation as a welcoming place for immigrants, and we continue to do so. We stood up for the full equality of the LGBTQ community, for religious and racial minorities, for people with disabilities, and we will not stop in doing so. We haven’t stopped caring about the plight of Syrian refugees, about expanding access to health care, or any of the other principles we cherish. And we will continue to be vigilant in confronting all expressions and acts of anti-Semitism.
Nothing that happened on Tuesday changes the values and principles of our organized Jewish community. What we believe in and what we work for in the public square will remain constant.
What has also not changed is our ability to speak to the issues we care about. Amidst any electoral campaign, we, as a 501 (c) 3, must avoid certain behaviors that would reflect partisanship. But as a community and as an institution with deeply held principles, we can and will work – as we have under every administration – to advance those principles in Washington and in our own state; Sometimes together with those in public office, and, when necessary, in opposition to any administration.
What will change now is our strategy – ‘how’ we do our work, including what is possible and what is necessary right now.
One test of any constitutional liberal democracy is what happens after the election. When we have a different vision for our shared future than that of the elected government, it is our responsibility to continue to work for our vision. This is our right, our responsibility, and the way we honor our constitutional democracy. While there is much we do not know about the coming years, this is something we can be certain about.