Most of President Donald Trump’s inflammatory speeches are designed to energize his hardcore MAGA base, but occasionally, Trump will try to persuade non-Republican, non-MAGA voters that no matter how much they dislike him, they have no choice but to vote for him — otherwise, “socialist” Democrats will harm them economically. Liberal economist Paul Krugman, in his December 9 column for the New York Times, notes that Trump made such an argument when he addressed the Israeli American Council on Saturday night, December 8. Not only was the speech anti-Semitic, Krugman asserts, but also, Trump failed to make a convincing argument for why Jewish voters in the United States should support him.
“Was he peddling an anti-Semitic stereotype, portraying Jews as money-grubbing types who care only about their wealth?,” Krugman writes. “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.”
Trump, during his Saturday night speech, argued that although many people in the audience were “not nice people at all,” they “have to vote for me” because the alternative is Democrats raising their taxes through the roof.
“It’s not news that Trump’s bigotry isn’t restricted to blacks and immigrants,” Krugman explains. “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.”
Krugman observes that in 2018, only 17% of Jewish voters in the U.S. voted Republican, adding that although “almost all” American Jews “support Israel,” most of them “don’t support the policies of its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.”
The New York Times columnist (who is Jewish himself) goes on to explain that when American Jews make anti-racist assertions, they are not only standing up for other groups — they are also acting in their own interests because they’re smart enough to realize 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,” Krugman stresses. “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, Virginia. You have to be willfully ignorant of the past not to know where all this leads.”
Similarly, Krugman observes, “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.”
History, Krugman emphasizes, shows that those who turn a blind eye to bigotry and racism are likely to be targeted themselves at some point — and most Jewish American voters, thanks to their historic perspective, realize that.
“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,” Krugman writes. “But most of my ethnic group, I believe, understands that Trump is bad for the Jews — whatever tax bracket we happen to be in.”