- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 24 February 2016
- Written by ALBERT SHALOM | CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Dr. Joseph Patten, Chair of the Political Science Department, said “not many people know that Bernie Sanders is Jewish.” Is this just a coincidence or is it more than that?
It was only eight years ago when history was made in America with the election of the first African American, President Barack Obama. Now, for the upcoming 2016 presidential elections once again history can be made with either the first Female President, Hillary Clinton, or the first Jewish President, Bernie Sanders, who are both running for the democratic presidential nomination.
Both Jews and females have made giant strides politically in the U.S. throughout history, yet both have failed to get to the ultimate prize, the American presidency.
Joe Lieberman was the first Jewish person to run on a presidential ticket as Vice President for Al Gore in 2000 and then sought the presidential nomination in 2004, but failed and didn’t even end up running.
It’s important to note the role and inspiration these leaders display for African Americans and other minority groups in what they can achieve and accomplish.
Professor Catherine Bartch, Instructor of Political Science said, “President Obama gives young African Americans inspiration to achieve things that may seem to be beyond them.” She continued, “The same could be said for Hillary Clinton in regarding gender and Sanders in regards to Jewish people.”
Charles M. Blow wrote in The New York Times on Jan.14, mentioned, “I told the boys that whatever else the president does or doesn’t do, his impact on young people of color will most likely be incalculable. As I told them: For many young people like you and like my own children, the first president they consciously registered was Barack Obama, a black man... Obama is the first black president — and may well be the last, who knows — and that alone has a historical weight and impact on this generation that will play out for generations to come.”
Some voters have expressed disappointment with the idea that Bernie Sanders has downplayed his religious background. Michael A. Cohen, a columnist at The Boston Globe states in his article on tabletmag.com on Feb. 12: “This should be a moment of pride for American Jews, especially when we’re hearing more and more stories of anti- Semitism showing up on college campuses. It felt important to acknowledge this historic achievement.”
He continued to tell an experience, “One friend emailed me and expressed her disappointment was that it wasn’t getting more attention. ‘I do think in an election where we are making such a big deal over the potential for the first female president of the United States, it seemed more than a trifle ironic that very few people seemed to think the first Jew to win a primary was worth a mention,’ she wrote. ‘We’re not exactly a group that’s had it easy over the past several centuries.’”
Dr. Patten pointed out that a probable reason for why Sander’s and the media have not really drawn attention to his religious background is because “Sander’s is downplaying his religion and following President John F. Kennedy’s and President Barack Obama’s role model of downplaying religious and ethnic backgrounds.”
He continued, “Most people still believe that Hillary Clinton is going to win, but if Sander’s gets to the national level you will most probably see the media and Sander’s himself address his Jewish background.”
Angela Ryan a junior political science major and the President Political Science Club remarked, “It’s a smart move. He’s separating his religion and the state to serve for the good and will of the people.”
Mitchell Parker, a senior Pre-Medical Jewish student at the University and the student vice president of the Monmouth University Chabad Club commented, “For me, it doesn’t matter what the future President’s race or cultural background is, what matters to me is that he or she is going to be a good President. The media trying to play up a Presidential candidate’s race or cultural background is all for hype and ratings.”
It should also be noted the importance of the timing of all this.
Dr. Patten noted that Sanders religious issue is not unlike Obama’s racial issue when he ran for the presidency. Dr. Patten commented, “An African American becoming president was much more shocking (culturally) than if were to say a Jewish or female president was elected.”
PHOTO TAKEN from Freedom Works