Orthodox Jews and Political ApathyThe Frum community in the United States is plagued with political apathy. American Orthodox Jews have about a 50% voter turnout rate in Presidential elections and much lower in off year elections. Orthodox Jews have low rates of participation as volunteers for political campaigns and in donations to candidates. Knowledge of issues and the political process is at a dismally low level.
One reason for the widespread political apathy is the widely held attitude that politics doesn't matter. Proverbs 21:1 "The heart of the king is in the hands of G-d; He directs it anywhere He wishes" is regularly quoted to justify this flight from responsibility. G-d is in charge no matter whether the Democrats or Republicans are in power so why does it matter! This of course overlooks that Divine intervention to "change the heart of the king" favorably is less likely when we don't do our part!
As Jews we are charged to "Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive" (Jeremiah 29:7). We have a responsibility as citizens to participate in the political process.
Many Jews are unaware and/or indifferent that every election brings out prominent rabbis issuing psakim that as Jews we have a religious obligation to vote! In fact, Rav Aviner stated that a person sitting shiva needs to get up to go vote on election day.
Voting is the bare minimum to fulfill our responsibility. What is needed is an effort to politically organize American Orthodox Jews to advocate for traditional values in the political arena. We also have specific needs such as school vouchers etc that we should be fighting for in a more effective manner.
This election the Republican Party is actively courting the Jewish vote. We should grasp the hand that is reaching out to us and not slap it away. To slap away the outstretched hand would be an act of ingratitude alienating natural allies we should be working with on common interests.