MELBOURNE, FL - Donald Trump has mostly ducked outright accusations of being personally anti-Semitic but to many American Jews he does seem to be enabling it. It is one of the main factors driving many Jews to vote for Hillary Clinton, including those who don’t really like her. But that raises the question why the same isn’t true for women.
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After all, if Trump’s anti-Semitism can be a matter of debate, especially with the exonerating proof provided by his daughter Ivanka’s Orthodox conversion, his aggressive and demeaning attitude towards women is documented and irrefutable. But while women are voting against Trump in general, they aren’t doing so in numbers that in any way resemble the Jewish shift to Clinton. According to the latest L.A. Times/USC tracking poll, 40% of women are voting Trump nationally. In a survey of Florida published on Sunday, 42% of women say they will vote for Donald Trump. In Ohio, according to a Remington Research poll released last week, 48% of women support Trump. In Louisiana, according to a poll conducted by SMOR, Trump actually beats Clinton among women 46-41.
But singling out women and asking them to vote according to their gender is sexist, you might now interject. Women are just as concerned as men about national security, the state of the economy, social welfare, Obamacare and the like, and may, for all these reasons, prefer Trump over Clinton, no matter what his approach to women is. That’s fine by me, as long as you would also be OK with Jews voting for an out and out anti-Semite because they like his policies or dislike his opponent’s on everything else but the status of Jews.
Imagine if the situation was reversed. Imagine if Trump had made only a few objectionable remarks about women and perhaps had not been adamant and forthcoming enough about dissociating himself from misogynist outbursts among his supporters, but had been just as loathsome and obnoxious about Jews as he’s been towards women. Imagine if in his past he’d called Jews kikes, Hymies or hook-nosed, if he’d said they’re unusually ugly, if he rated them solely based on their income, if he remarked that they’re only good for counting money (well, he’s done that, actually), if he used the term “bankers” as a euphemism for Jews (he may have done that too, come to think about it), if he reacted to a difficult interview by saying “it’s his clipped dick that was talking,” if he was caught on tape saying that he likes to whack Jews every once in a while and that he can afford to say so because he’s a big star and he employs them.
Even with his more restrained aspersions about Jews (they know how to deal, they like to buy and own politicians) Trump instinctively repels most Jewish Americans, including many who detest Clinton and would have gladly voted for any other Republican under the sun. Jews who are nonetheless voting for Trump are already considered outliers in most Jewish communities, with the possible exception of some Orthodox enclaves. But if a Jew voted for a Trump who spoke about Jews the way he talks about women, he’d be tarred, feathered and officially declared a self-hating Jew.
I mean it’s hard enough to understand how anyone, male or female, can vote for Trump, given his vulgar and incendiary rhetoric towards immigrants and minorities, his ignorant and dangerous bombast on foreign affairs, his completely bonkers economic plans, his suspiciously slavish adoration of Vladimir Putin and his refusal to divulge his tax returns. But it is doubly difficult to comprehend how women can vote for him even though they know, or surely should know, that he sees them mainly as sexual objects, judges them for their looks and believes that the main point of their existence is to service his sexual desires.
One possible reason is that these women fear and loathe Clinton and all that she stands for far more than they object to Trump’s misogyny: some of them must live in surroundings in which denigration of women is the norm anyway. But even if one can rationalize the reasons for their vote, it is disappointing to see women in effect going against their own gender. That’s what one would say about a Jew voting for a candidate who spoke about Jews the way Trump speaks about women: that they were voting against their own people.
You might rightly ask why am I focusing on the 40% or so of women who are voting for Trump when close to 60% of men are voting for him as well. They should be just as repelled as women from Trump’s anti-female posture, never mind the rest of his troubling persona. I don’t have a good answer to that. It is indeed disappointing. The only thing I can say in my defense is that of women I’ve always had higher expectations.