Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Election Calculus

First, a disclaimer. I just got contact lenses (or in my case, one contact lens). I am in the “wear it for a few hours to get used to it” stage. At least in my case, this is the stage where you spend as much time to get the lens in your eye as you do actually wearing it. After about an hour of effort, I finally got the lens in. And now I can barely read my computer—even with the text magnified to 120%. I am not sure if this is because my eye is adjusting, the prescription is off or I put the damn thing in backward. (Correcting the last item would require I take the contact out and put it back in again. And I do not have an extra hour). Whatever the cause, please forgive me if there is an abundance of typos.

And now….the elections.

Last week, a friend and I discussed the elections. She told me that her husband is voting for Lieberman. She is not particularly happy about this.

Me: Wow! Is he that right wing?

Friend: No, he is not. But he says that, if you want the government to move slightly right, vote far right.

Welcome to the world of Election Calculus, where one’s vote is based on pretty much everything BUT the issues.

Who do you not want to see in office? Which ethnic, socio-economic and religious group would you like to either support or screw royally? Whose influence do you want to block? Who is likely to end up forming or being included in the majority coalition? And, most importantly, who is everyone else voting for? You might switch your vote from Meretz to Kadima if you feel that enough people are going to vote for Livne (Kadima) to allow her to form the government. Alternatively, if you feel that Bibi (Likud) has this election sewed up, you might vote Meretz, in order to ensure a more solidly left opposition. Worried that Livne might outstrip Bibi? Leiberman (Israel Beytenu) is willing to sit with Livne or Bibi; a vote for him will ensure a right-wing slant to government no matter who is on top. Alternatively, switch your vote from Lieberman to Bibi—give Likud that extra edge. Perhaps you are not particularly impressed with Bibi or Livne, but really want to see Barak (Labor) as Defense Minister. Vote for him—if they get enough seats, they will join the coalition, and Barak has already said he would take the Defense Minister portfolio if Labor gets 20 seats. Bibi already expressed interest in having him.

You adore Moshe Feiglin? Pissed off at Bibi for pushing him back in the lists? Stick it to Bibi—vote for Ichud Leumi or Habayit Hayehudi or Leiberman. Lieberman is a good choice if you are pissed off at Arab-Israelis for supporting Gaza in the last war and looking for a day of reckoning. He might also be a good choice if you have had it up to HERE with the Haredim not serving and with the ultra-Orthodox community in general…but only if Shas is not in the government. And what are the chances of that happening? No, that was not a theoretical question. Seriously, what are the chances? How many people are expected to vote Shas? Is Shas willing to sit in a government with Lieberman? Is Lieberman willing to sit in a government with Shas? How many votes will the other parties get? Perhaps enough to form a coalition without Shas? Gosh, when you look at it that way, I mean, you normally are not a supporter, but still, maybe you should vote for Shas. To offset Leiberman and protect the religious—make sure that Shas is big enough that it cannot be left out in the cold. Alternatively, you could vote Hadash. Lord knows, you are hardly a big fan of Arabs, but still...a loyalty oath? That is a slippery slope, my friend. That is a slope we cannot go down.

How many people are expected to vote for Party X? Suppose you are a big supporter of one of the smaller, boutique parties. Say, Hayerukim-Meimad. You feel that their positions on the issues are spot on. The leadership shows integrity. You would vote for them…if only you knew for sure that they would pass the threshold. And if you knew for sure that not only would they pass the threshold, but that they would get enough seats to have some clout and be able to accomplish something. And if you were not worried that a vote for them and one less vote for a big party would lead to an unstable government. But then, at the rate things are going, the government is going to be unstable anyway. And lots of people—25-30% according to the media polls and about 90% according to a poll of your friends and acquaintances—are still undecided. Perhaps your little party can be the new Gimlai’im, the surprise win. And, let’s face it—all of the big names have had their day. They are all failures. Why do any of them deserve your vote? Fuck that! Make your vote a protest vote!

And besides, would it not be nice to vote based on the issues?

Because we have issues. Lots of them. Rampant government and societal corruption and incompetence–we are a nation of scofflaws whose national motto should be לי, מותר (for me this is permissable). An economic meltdown. A terrible water shortage and general environmental crisis. A crumbling educational system. Discrimination against and abuse of various religious, ethnic and socio-economic groups; who gets screwed depends on where one is and who is and who is not in control there. A moribund peace process. The security situation.

But how many people are going to vote based on the issues? How many people are going to vote at all? We have so many problems that we should be voting in droves. Instead, I suspect that many voters will share the sentiment I overhead the other day in a waiting room: there is nothing I can do. The candidates are all shit. They are all corrupt and self-serving. My vote will not change that, so why bother?

G-d, where is our Obama? Where is our reason to believe? Our reason to have hope? Why is it that the people who generate excitement in this country tend to be fascists of one stripe or another? Can we not elect a government based on what we want to accomplish as opposed to whom we wish to destroy?

It is now 10:30 AM on election day. I have read websites. I did the election compass. I have been listening to news radio every day on the way to work. I still have not decided who I am voting for.


RivkA with a capital A said...

This was kinda funny.

Love the title -- Election Calculus

Frightenlingly accurate!!

Anonymous said...

There is something in the above lines I do not understand, "He might also be a good choice if you have had it up HERE".
Where or what is the right location of HERE?

Tzipporah said...

umm, yeah, the joys of a multi-party parliamentary system are one of the reasons I'm very leery of aliayh. That and Israeli drivers. :)

Viennetian said...

Im watching CNN right now about the election - but I do not know a lot about Israelis parties so I cannot comment.
But - I do know a lot about contacts. Had hard ones for many many years - after surgery I didnt need any - only to be back on contact - soft now - since december. And I still need 30 min to put them in and check if they really are in and if I can see properly. To get them out is another loooong story....

Benji Lovitt said...

I voted for Hayeruka Meimad. Oh well (sniff sniff).

Shuky Aharonovitch said...

I voted Liberman, with the hope that he could be controlled when he cross the line.

Anonymous said...

You don't want an Israeli Obama. You don't want dissenting media voices kicked off the official PM plane or taken off the air. You don't want a leader who thinks "only government" can fix free markets and is willing to print a trillion dollars to prove it (even though little money is actually economic "stimulus" and most of it is to pet causes and payback to election supporters). You don't want someone who thinks all we need to do is sit down and make nice with irrational foreign governments like Iran. Oh and border security? He appears willing to validate the invasion of America by millions of illegal workers. Land for peace? Based on his comments a la why can't we all be friends, I suspect an Israeli Obama would give away ALL of Israel. Such a SMALL price for peace, right?
As for your Election Calculus premise, I felt the same way about the American elections. Stay the course, or protest vote? My son suggested voting for Buzz Lightyear. I told him I liked BL's foreign policy: "To infinity and BEYOND..."
Yes, my comments are political, but you did write a column on a political election.

Anonymous said...

Sally you should have read all the Israeli blogs here in Israel who encouraged their friends back in America to vote for Obama.

And then you have those hypocritical so-called "dual citizens" who actually did in Israel vote for Obama.

Yet I have yet to post on even one blog a statement telling an Israeli who THEY should vote for in THEIR election.

Even though they were rude and told us how to vote in OUR election.

Oh well, the important vote that they casted and endorsed happen last November not they February. And that is the vote that has sealed their fate.

So be it then. They have condemned us, but in return they have condemned themselves as well. We will survive it. They, I don't believe will.

Anonymous said...

Gila doesn't understand the heavy heart that most of America, even those who voted for Obama went to the polls with.

I have never heard the word "lesser of two evils" said so many time by such a diverse group of people.

And yeah, regardless of who wins the election, in the end Israel is still screwed due to the American elections.

And they can thank their fellow Jews in America and even many of their neighbors (who really shouldn't have the right to vote in our elections) for playing a large part in that.

Anonymous said...

I meant Holly not Sally.

And yeah Gila has no idea the evils that this man she seems to worship as a god will inflict upon the world.

One only has to look at his political ally in Kenya Raila Odinga (he and Obama are of the same ethnic tribe) and how he got in power through killing and violence while all the while Obama was actively involved in his campaign, to understand that Obama can, and has shown a capacity for violence that outstrips anything we have seen from an US President from a long time.

Gila has already been hurt once. While I would gain no pleasure from it, it would be poetic irony if she is again attacked, this time by a fraction supported by the now US President.

Because we all know given his Muslim background (although he claims not to be practicing it no, but still he must see some affinity with it and identity with those who practice it) he will not support Israel. It doesn't matter what he says, his career has been about being on the side of the perceived "underdog". In this case that would be the Palestinians.

If he would at the very least look the other way when a political ally has engaged in a campaign of racial violence to gain power, what will he look the other way with or even behind the scenes encourage in the form of violence when it has to do with the Palestinian allies which he will sure to cultivate?

But again, it would be of some poetic irony wouldn't it.

And I am not necessarily of a mind to think Israel's survival is critical to America so perhaps in this one case Obama is correct in supporting the other side so when they do win they won't be as against America as Obama would have some allies with the new regime.

aliyah06 said...

"No taxation without representation" is a cornerstone of American democracy.....so, kindly stifle your indignation at my voting in the US election because (1) its a DUTY of a US citizen (which I still am) AND (2) since I pay TAXES to the US government, I get to have a say in how they're spent, capiche?

Anonymous said...

aliyah06 I would have less of a problem with it if you didn't vote in the Israeli elections but this whole "dual Citizen" thing is so wrong.

In your heart you can only have one loyalty. I don't care which you choose America or Israel but by all means choose and stick to voting only in that country's election.

And if you do vote in the US election you should vote only in who you would believe would be best for America even if you thought that person was worse for Israel.

In that case I could respect a vote for Obama because at least you did so only taking US interest in consideration. Even though you would be terribly, terribly wrong as Obama is also bad for America as well as being the one who will result in the destruction of Israel.

Anonymous said...

"WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has authorized a Saudi project to supply aerospace systems to Syria, in what was seen as the suspension of U.S. sanctions. "

Yeah, Obama is going to harm America greatly, no doubt, but he is absolutely going to destroy Israel through his pro-Muslim policies.

You know the saying Misery enjoys company. Well that is particularly true when the misery is shared by someone who actually helped cause the misery. There was a great number of Israeli Bloggers supporting Obama. Some even voted for him (don't get me into this as foreigners voting in an US election is so wrong and makes me so angry). So, I guess what goes around comes around.

Yeah, no doubt things are going to be very bad for Americans under Obama. But I think we will survive it. Can't say the same for Israel though.

Yehudit said...

This is the best guide to the Israeli elections I ever read. Hope all is well with you Gila, and whoever you voted for fits into the big picture in exactly the right way.

(Sadly must concur with the Obama comments, altho I wouldn't put Israel on the trash heap just yet.)