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  • Writer's pictureSteven Windmueller

Wind Election Report #4

A newsletter focusing on the 2020 election and American Jews


Law and Order as a Political Factor:

Political analysts are watching how the issue of law and order will play out in the coming weeks.  In 1968, with Hubert Humphrey holding a significant lead over Richard Nixon, the introduction of preserving “law and order” as a campaign issue would fundamentally shift this election. Following the civil unrest in connection with the death of Martin Luther King in the spring and the anti-war riots during the time of the Chicago Democratic Convention in July, laid the seeds for the Republicans to ask who could best be counted on to preserve the peace?  “Law and order” emerged as a critical campaign issue in the late summer, clearly benefiting Richard Nixon in the closing months of the campaign.



Incumbents have a built in advantage! Since the end of the Second World War only three incumbents lost their bid for a second term: Gerald Ford (1976), Jimmy Carter (1980), and George H.W. Bush in 1988. Overall since the founding of this republic, only 12 seated Presidents lost their bid for a second term.


Jewish Candidates and 2020:

As we have reported in earlier reports, the growing numbers of Jews running for public office in 2020 is an impressive reality. Representing both parties, the geographical distribution is particularly significant, as we see candidates for the Senate in Wyoming (Ben-David (D), Alaska (Gross (I), and Georgia (Ossoff (D). Congressional races featuring Jews also reflects this growing distribution of Jewish political players across the nation. We will continue to identify specific races involving Jewish candidates.


Looking at Political Movements:

In this issue and the ones to follow, we will explore some of the philosophical roots associated with Jewish political involvement: Jewish Political Conservatism: Some Thoughts Writing in Commentary,  Eric Cohen provides a Jewish conservative political framework:[1] “Taken together, Torah conservatives, Zionist conservatives, and free-market Jewish conservatives could create a formidable new coalition of American Jews who stand athwart progressivism…” “Like Judaism itself, conservatism still honors the importance of fidelity to tradition, communal obligation, and the role of religion in sustaining a moral society.” For Cohen among the elements that define this political movement are the following: “…pro–religious liberty, supportive of the traditional family, in favor of school choice, allied with Israel in a dangerous world, and tough-minded in the global fight against anti-Semitism. Such a movement would seek to advance ideas and policies aimed at strengthening Jewish continuity in the United States.” In 2015 I had occasion to provide a historical overview of the rise of Jewish political conservative thinking and practice. In my eJewishphilanthropy article, I noted:[2] Jews have come to their Republicanism based on particular political ideas and values. For some, their rootedness in the GOP can be traced to “family tradition”, where there have been longstanding connections to the party. Yet, for others, their “conversion” to the Republican Party is tied to a specific policy area, possibly linked to their economic philosophy or conceivably aligned to their set of religious or social values (i.e. opposition to gay marriage or disagreement with “abortion on demand”). There is evidence that for others, the Republican position on church-state has evoked a particular commitment to supporting religious and educational initiatives that embrace the notion of the application of religious values and practices to the wellbeing of the social order. And for other Republican Jewish voters their connection to the Party is specially tied to national security concerns and their pro-Israel commitments. For certain advocates their ideological opposition to “big government” has positioned them to support the Republican Party.


Articles of Possible Interest in Connection with the 2020 Election:


Steven Windmueller is the Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Service at the Jack H. Skirball Campus of HUC-JIR. His writings can be found on his website,

Previous Wind Election Reports and other election-related materials can be found at


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