Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

The Adelsons and Super PACS are a Fair Counter to Incumbency

August 28, 2012 1:37 pm 4 comments

Dr. Miriam and Mr. Sheldon Edelson at the 2011 AIPAC "Better Together" policy Conference. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

Last week the Wall St Journal reported that Sheldon and Miriam Adelson gave $500,000 to a Super PAC supporting my campaign for Congress. The report was quickly picked up by media outlets throughout the world.

To say I am grateful is, understandably, an understatement. But this is not only due to the amount donated but to the people donating as well. Sheldon and Miriam Adelson are heroes of the Jewish people and international benefactors of medical research. Few other individuals today have demonstrated more markedly what great wealth can do to rejuvenate a beleaguered, imperiled democracy like the great State of Israel, and few other philanthropists have done more to foster Jewish identity worldwide. That they do so as proud, patriotic, and civic-minded Americans adds an   inspirational quality to American Jewry who witness their work.

Almost a millennium ago Judaism’s greatest thinker, Maimonides, wrote that the challenge of wealth is to see money as a means rather an end. We beseech God for prosperity not merely to afford a new HDTV but as the means by which to repair the world. Sheldon and Miriam Adelson have over the last few years alone given more than $100 million to Birthright Israel, more than $25 million to Yad Va’Shem, and hundreds of millions more to fighting disease, establishing clinics for the poor, and other humanitarian needs.

This bears mentioning given the recent, savage attacks they have endured ever since they announced a preparedness to spend tens of millions of dollars to defeat President Obama. In this hyper-partisan climate, the activism of a businessman with strong political convictions, backed by a ruling of the United States Supreme Court, can nevertheless open himself to the most scurrilous attacks with even world-renowned publications treating the allegations of disgruntled employees as fact. That government agencies seem to be leaking information about investigations that are thusfar inconclusive is even more worrying and will no doubt sow fear in others who are considering political activism.

I personally witnessed the vitriol the Adelsons invite through their political contributions. The day after the donation to the Super PAC supporting my candidacy was announced, Aref Assaf, the President of the Arab-American forum, issued a statement to the media saying, “The Adelson money has effectively sealed the capitulation of Mr. Boteach to the right wing and Islamophobes in the Republican Party, and their financiers.” While this was only the latest of Assaf’s anti-Semitic invective, Sheldon Adelson remains one of the foremost targets of those who spew hatred into the American political arena.

Fairer people ask whether the glut of Super PAC money is good for America. It is a good question and Mr. Adelson has been quoted as saying that he would prefer if money were not a component of American politics. But so long as it is, it is fair for people on the right to counter the massive infusions made by people on the left.

But while I absolutely agree that it would be wonderful if ideas rather money was definitive in American politics – and I have steadfastly run a Jewish-values based campaign founded entirely on new political initiatives – I would remind those who decry Super PAC spending that the biggest problem in American politics today is incumbency.

The vision of the founding fathers was one of citizen-politicians leaving their farms and law practices for a few years to serve their countries and then return to private life. George Washington could have been President for life but declined a third term. Thomas Jefferson so hated the Presidency that he pined to return his beloved Monticello and neglected to mention on his tombstone that he had served as America’s chief magistrate.

What they could never have envisioned was lifetime, career politicians being elected to the United States Senate with an 80 percent reelection rate and incumbents in the House being reelected at an even higher and truly staggering rate of ninety percent. Indeed, no more than five to ten incumbents lose their seats every two years. OpenSecrets.com, who have a disturbing chart about incumbency, sum it up well:

“Few things in life are more predictable than the chances of an incumbent member of the U.S. House of Representatives winning reelection. With wide name recognition, and usually an insurmountable advantage in campaign cash, House incumbents typically have little trouble holding onto their seats.”

Bill Pascrell, who signed the infamous Gaza 54 attack on Israel and against whom I’m running, has been in the House for 16 years. While I campaign against him I have to find a way to support my family (you’re obviously not paid by your campaign), raise money from people who think that as a challenger I am a certain underdog, build name recognition, and try to reassure all those who are afraid that if they come out and support me openly Pascrell will retaliate against them (you can’t imagine how many people have told me this, and I assume the same is true in other Congressional districts).

But while Pascrell runs he is paid his full congressional salary with all its perks, is allowed to do franked mail (thinly veiled campaign pieces aimed at raising positive name ID) at the taxpayer’s expense, and has a huge compliment of congressional staff to assist him. And though they are not permitted to campaign, their responsibility for myriad other tasks sure makes life a heck of a lot easier. Most importantly, there is the pork barrel spending that an incumbent can claim to have brought into his district and these huge investments have the practical effect of simply buying business and voters off with money their representative says he brought from Washington.

Gerrymandering further leads to approximately 89 percent of all districts being dominated by a party and giving the challenger from the other side of the aisle little hope of prevailing.

No wonder that of 435 Congressional districts, only 15 are considered toss-up seats. Beyond that only 46 of those seats even have a chance to change hands. Even on a Presidential level there are only eight swing states where votes truly matter, all of which makes one question the very foundation of American democracy. These sobering facts should be kept in mind before one swallows arguments against Citizens United, flawed as it is, uncritically. Before we attack outside investment that might give a challenger some hope of prevailing, perhaps we should first discuss the need for terms limits or some other equalizing factor.

What the Adelsons contribution to the Super PAC supporting me has done is force my challenger Bill Pascrell to finally wake up. Here is a man so assured of reelection in a Democratic-leaning district that he has not even bothered to update his website since the June primary. He refuses to debate me, respond to me, or even campaign, so contemptuous is he of the Democratic process and the need to actually earn the public’s vote.

To this challenger it seems a little unfair, not to mention a touch hypocritical, for professional, lifetime politicians to attack Sheldon and Miriam Adelson who have done a service in giving the people of the ninth district of New Jersey what they surely deserve: a real campaign and choice between rival candidates and political visions, which form the very fabric of American democracy.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the Republican congressional nominee in New Jersey’s Ninth Congressional District. The international best-selling author of 28 books, he is about to publish “The Fed-Up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering.” His website is shmuleyforcongress.com. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

4 Comments

  • ADELSON IS WRONG
    AND
    YOU HAVE BEEN CONSISTANTLY WRONG.

    You are one of the tests brought to Israel,
    do we follow your wrongs,do we look for hollywood recording idols and authors and other idols.
    or do we find a Rabbi.

  • Thank you for sharing with the public the great things that Sheldon and Miriam do, and will continue to do. Many lives have been saved by the medical research they sponsor. Birthright has changed the lives of so many of our young adults. I could go on and on about the generosity and kindness of this couple, but I’ll keep it simple and just go with what I’ve written.

  • Danny from Jerusalem

    “a beleaguered, imperiled democracy like the great State of Israel”
    No shortage of problems over here, but Shmuley is off target on this on.

  • A REAL American

    They are also “a Fair Counter” to Billionaire George Soros and all of his groups and the Labors Unions who use union dues to make political contributions.

    If you want to cut off all George Soros funded groups and the Labor Unions from making political donations, I can live without the Republican SuperPACs. But it would be super hypocritical to cut off one side, but not the other.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Music Coldplay Begins Concert With Broadcast of Charlie Chaplin’s Iconic Speech in ‘The Great Dictator’

    Coldplay Begins Concert With Broadcast of Charlie Chaplin’s Iconic Speech in ‘The Great Dictator’

    British rock band Coldplay started its set at the Glastonburg Festival on Sunday by broadcasting excerpts of the iconic speech Charlie Chaplin delivered in The Great Dictator, the 1940 political satire in which the famous filmmaker/movie star played a Jewish barber. “I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone,” Chaplin begins his address. “I should like to help everyone, if possible, Jew, Gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Two Decades Before Cleveland’s First NBA Title, LeBron James Walked Onto a JCC Court

    Two Decades Before Cleveland’s First NBA Title, LeBron James Walked Onto a JCC Court

    JNS.org – The seed for the city of Cleveland’s first professional championship in a major sport in 52 years may have been planted at the Shaw Jewish Community Center on White Pond Drive in Akron, Ohio, nearly 20 years ago. That’s when a tall, lanky kid from Akron named LeBron James walked onto the hardwood court and changed the game of basketball forever. Coach Keith Dambrot, now the head basketball coach at the University of Akron, conducted those sessions that attracted […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs North American Studios Look to Israel for Next Animation Hit

    North American Studios Look to Israel for Next Animation Hit

    JNS.org – In 2008, Yoram Honig was a producer and director living in Jerusalem, fresh off his first international hit, when the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA) came to him with a challenge: build a film industry from scratch in Israel’s capital. “When we started here, was nothing in Jerusalem,” he said during an interview in his office in the Talbiya neighborhood. Now, the Jerusalem Film and Television Fund, which Honig heads as an arm of the JDA, pumps 9 million shekels […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas to Wear Leotard With Hebrew Letters in National Competition

    Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas to Wear Leotard With Hebrew Letters in National Competition

    Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas will wear a leotard bearing Hebrew lettering when she competes at the P&G Gymnastics Championships over the weekend. Douglas’ Swarovski-outlined outfit will feature the Hebrew word “Elohim,” meaning God, on its left sleeve. The Hebrew detailing honors the athlete’s “rich heritage of faith,” according to apparel manufacturer GK Elite, which produced the leotard and released a preview of it on Wednesday. The company said Douglas’ sister, Joyelle “Joy” Douglas, created the Hebrew design. The outcome of the P&G Championships will help […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports British World Heavyweight Champion Should Be Banned From Boxing for Sounding Like Hitler, Says Ukrainian Competitor

    British World Heavyweight Champion Should Be Banned From Boxing for Sounding Like Hitler, Says Ukrainian Competitor

    Britain’s world heavyweight champion, Taylor Fury, should be banned from boxing for making Nazi-like comments, a former world champion from the Ukraine said on Thursday, ahead of their upcoming match. “I was in shock at his statements about women, the gay community, and when he got to the Jewish people, he sounded like Hitler,” Wladimir Klitschko told British media, according to Reuters. “We cannot have a champion like that. Either he needs to be shut up or shut down in the ring, or […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Rabbi Shows Cooking Skills and Humor on Chopped

    Rabbi Shows Cooking Skills and Humor on Chopped

    Rabbi Hanoch Hecht just made television history; but, unfortunately, he couldn’t have his rugelach and eat it too. Hecht became the first rabbi to compete on the hit show “Chopped,” where contestants are forced to use four random ingredients in their recipes, and have 20-30 minutes to create an appetizer, a main course and a dessert. A contestant is eliminated after each round. Hecht, 32, said that while the dishes and utensils were new, the kitchen was not kosher, so he couldn’t taste […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Music Orthodox Entertainer Stars in Pepsi Max Commercial as New Face of Company’s Israel Campaign (VIDEO)

    Orthodox Entertainer Stars in Pepsi Max Commercial as New Face of Company’s Israel Campaign (VIDEO)

    Orthodox singer and entertainer Lipa Schmeltzer is starring in a new Pepsi Max commercial for the company’s campaign in Israel. The commercial begins with a bunch of Jewish men eating at a restaurant, when Schmeltzer walks in and tries to decide what to order. An employee at the obviously Israeli eatery offers him a variety of foods, but the entertainer in the end decides on a bottle of Pepsi. Everyone in the restaurant then joins him, drinking Pepsi Max and dancing to […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Book Reviews Jewish Author’s ‘Messy’ Draft Transforms Into Rock Star Novel on Amazon

    Jewish Author’s ‘Messy’ Draft Transforms Into Rock Star Novel on Amazon

    JNS.org – “Writing is a messy process,” says author Elizabeth Poliner. “People who don’t write fiction would be surprised to see what early drafts could look like.” But readers wouldn’t know “what a mess it was for the longest time,” as the Jewish author puts it, when reading Poliner’s critically acclaimed latest book, As Close to Us as Breathing. The volume garnered Amazon’s “Best Book” designation in March 2016 as well as rave reviews from the New York Times,W Magazine, NPR, […]

    Read more →