A Religious Conservative Reflects on the U.S. Election https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/politics-current-affairs/2016/11/a-religious-conservative-reflects-on-the-u-s-election/

November 23, 2016 | Shalom Carmy
About the author: Shalom Carmy teaches Bible and Jewish philosophy at Yeshiva University and is an affiliated scholar at the university’s Cardozo law school. He is also the editor emeritus of Tradition, a journal of Orthodox thought.

Not on election night, but when the Republican primaries were concluded, the Orthodox rabbi and philosopher Shalom Carmy “knew that . . . conservatives had lost, and ‘bigly.’” Herewith, his thoughts for his fellow religious conservatives, Jewish and non-Jewish alike:

The most painful aspect of the last presidential campaign is the disgusting rhetoric and the deterioration of political debate. The winner of the Electoral College majority set new lows for abusive national political discourse. Yet it will not do to pretend such coarsening was unexpected. Review the past 50 years: the elegant Kennedy, whose exchanges with Nixon seem, in retrospect, a golden age of engagement with substance, had more skeletons in his closet than almost any contemporary politician, even if he was shielded by a sycophantic media. . . .

The fault, dear friends, is not in one of our reality-TV stars, but in ourselves and in our culture. . . . Yet each of us in his or her respective sphere can try to foster a culture of yirat shamayim (fear of Heaven) in which human dignity and responsible behavior can survive.

One small suggestion: Judaism enjoins respect for the established civil authorities. There is no grounds to believe that Roman emperors and high officials were, as a rule, more admirable human beings, or wiser than our democratic leaders today. But without such respect, human society cannot be sustained.

Contemporary democracy, by dissolving the element of dignity and majesty in our political transactions, has replaced the prestige of authority with the magnetism of notoriety and insouciance, with results even more evident and predictable than the much-talked-of climate change. . . . Is it necessary for us . . . to call [politicians] by their first names, as if fantasizing them as our pals or aspiring to intimacy with their aura? Does doing so add to their professional dignity or detract from it? Let us stop fueling the baleful identification of the statesman with the celebrity.

Read more on Kol Hamevaser: http://www.kolhamevaser.com/2016/11/morning-after-memo-to-religious-conservatives/