Twenty years ago I covered an election campaign in which progressive Jews abandoned a candidate who was an aging, problematic, over-familiar, under-exciting liberal.
Some on the left abandoned the candidate for being too hawkish. Others on the left abandoned the candidate out of a sense that the election was a lock.
They figured the opponent — a man of no background in governance, a man who got where he was by inciting hatred — would lose whether leftists voted or not.
The opponent, who started his campaign with no chance of winning, was Benjamin Netanyahu.
He defeated Shimon Peres by a margin of less than one percent of the total vote. Leftists had stayed home in droves. They put Netanyahu into office. This would never be the same country again. Not even close. And he's still here, still making things worse.
Why bring this up now? Because people I've spoken with lately, people who are my people, progressive American Jews, have told me that they can't bring themselves to vote for Hillary Clinton.
I'm not asking you to change your principles. Chances are, they're very close to mine. I'm asking you something else:
I'm asking you to vote for Hillary. In fact, I'm begging you.
Don't let Donald Trump use your vote to become president of the United States.
Donald Trump needs you on election day. He needs you to not vote. Or if you do vote, he needs you to vote for anyone other than Hillary Clinton.
Why Jewish progressives? Because many of you live in crucial states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida, rich in electoral votes and home to substantial numbers of Jews, who could well make the difference in a razor-margin election.
Look, I'm certain that you have thought this out, long and hard. Of course you have. The very people whom Trump needs most are among the people who most intelligently hate his guts: savvy, energetic, sensitive, idealistic leftists.
I know you may feel betrayed by the Democratic Party. I know you may dislike Hillary Clinton as a potential leader, and have countless good reasons why.
Maybe you think your vote doesn't matter anyway, so you might as well sit this one out, or vote your conscience, a third party or a write-in. That's music to Trump's ears.
A conscience is a terrible thing to waste. Don't waste it on Trump. Swallow hard, and vote for Hillary.
One more thing I've learned from the insane right winning election after election over here: They'll tell you exactly what you can expect, in advance. It may come coated in sugar, but sooner or later the center burns through. Like acid.
One moment Monday night, Melania Trump was explaining that the values her husband would bring to the White House were "kindness, love, and compassion."
The next, Trump's senior national security adviser, retired general Michael Flynn, was leading the delegates in a chant urging the summary arrest, disqualification, and imprisonment of Hillary Clinton.
"Lock her up, that's right, lock her up!" Flynn declared, picking up the chant and exhorting the crowd to do the same. "Damn right. There's nothing wrong with that."
I know that some of you hold to the revolutionary adage of "the worse, the better" — the idea that things need to get much worse for the masses to see how bad things really are, and to take action to make it better.
Don't believe it.
We tried it here. What we've seen here, is that if you elect a terrible leader, a ruler who makes things worse, people get scared, and cling even tighter to that ruler who then, of course, only makes things even worse than you dreaded they could get.
It's your every right to vote your conscience. If you believe that means not voting for Hillary, that's certainly your business.
But there's no way around this: In not voting for Hillary, you're not just casting a vote for Trump. You're casting a vote for a Republican platform which supports theocracy and discrimination against gays; attacks same-sex marriage; dog-whistles backing for legal ownership of the AR-15 assault rifle and mass-killing ammunition magazines; opposes abortion; declares coal to be a "clean, affordable, reliable domestic energy resource"; declares the Iran nuclear deal and climate change agreements to be null and void; opposes couples living together without being married; looks askance at children born out of wedlock; rescinds support for an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, and backs legislation equating Israel and "Israeli-controlled territories" (the occupied West Bank).
Just for starters.
This is not just another election. Do what you need to do psychically, but please bring yourself to vote for Hillary.
"There's no 'next election'," former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani warned the convention delegates Monday night.
"This is it."
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now