Columns - 2008


    by Doug Brook
    Deep South Jewish Voice columnist

    The current election campaign is shocking so many people, that it seems the nation has no more energy for it. People used to be amped up, but an increasing number of people on the circuit find the entire process revolting.

    Why does a Jewish publication need an election issue? After all, don't all Jews vote Democrat?

    I'm here to tell you that they don't, that some Jews do vote Republican. I've met both of them.

    Yes, that was a cheap shot. But it's the (three thousand and) eleventh hour of the campaign and all that remains are cheap shots. And overpriced doubleshots at the bar during Sunday Night Football.

    Besides, it's well documented that many Jews voted Republican in the 2000 election. People's Exhibit A: South Florida.

    In this year's consternating contest, people need all the guidance they can get. Nobody's jumping out to take control of the race, race issues notwithstanding. When one campaign seems to be just bidin' its time, the other seems to pale in comparison.

    In one of the more recent moments when the campaign briefly seemed to settle down yet turned up the heat again, Senator McCain brought out a typical everyman known throughout Saturday Night Live as Joe the Plumber.

    What has not been revealed until now is the true identity of Joe the Plumber. He's really Yosi, and by virtue of being a Jewish plumber he is in no way typical.

    More than an everyday, run-of-the-mill, hundred dollar per hour plumber, Yosi is also an innovator. He's a technical wizard of his trade, sometimes referred to as a TechniPlumber.

    Yosi's greatest invention is a special pipe wrapping that coats the pipes, preventing them from leaking or from freezing in the winter. Available on the internet, this cutting edge product is marketed as Yosi's Amazing TechniPlumber Dreamcoat.

    Yosi's entrance into the national subconscious for almost several minutes was a brief respite from the increasingly negative campaigning that occurred for weeks.

    Contrary to popular belief, negative campaigning is not a modern invention. Any American history professor will tell you that some of the earliest American elections included vicious negativity between candidates. Those professors would even tell you which ones, and then bemoan that I could too if I'd paid attention more in class.

    (Mr. Fleming, I could've thrown out Adams and Jefferson there but I didn't want to be wrong. Or look it up. It's not your fault. I put both "c"s in "recalcitrant.")

    The truth is... seldom found in campaigns. The truth is also that negative campaigning and attempts to steal votes date back much further, all the way back to the Bible.

    For example, in an early election where only one vote counted, Rebecca conspired with her more passive son Jacob to steal the birthright from the more aggressive candidate, Esau, whose platform was secretly funded by the bow and arrow lobby.

    And in the hotly contested race to be Jacob's favorite son, Joseph's ten older brothers would say anything to make him look bad: "he's arrogant," "he never works," "he got eaten alive in the field today, here's the remains of his coat, when's dinner?"

    The Bible also presents the original broken campaign promises. In the aforementioned race, Joseph promised that his brothers' corn would all bow to his. He also clearly assured that their stars would bow to his. To this day, scientists completely disavow any evidence that corn can bow, let alone stars.

    Enraged by these empty promises, Joseph's brothers had him deported to Egypt where he admittedly found great political success in the country that originated the pyramid scheme.

    These early seeds laid the groundwork for millennia of behavior that evolved into the efficient process we use today to elect an equally efficient government. And the Jewish people were part of the ride every step of the way.

    However, for better or worse, and sometimes for both, there are some distinct differences in Judaic tradition and modern campaign tactics. There are many examples to cite, but we're on a word limit so we'll just use one that says it all.

    In presidential campaign debates, two or more candidates expound at length providing no solutions whatsoever. In rabbinic debate, two or more clergy expound at length providing more solutions than there are participants.

    Doug Brook is a writer in Silicon Valley who is voting for Tina Fey, and not just because she's really hot. For more information, past columns, other writings, and more, visit

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.