By Marc R. Stanley
October is here, and the best teams of baseball are about to descend on our Lone Star state for the World Series, filling the Global Life Park in Arlington with the sights and sounds of the Fall Classic, closing out a season no fan will ever forget (we’ve already forgotten the Stanley Cup Finals and are trying to forget this NFL season).
And regardless of what teams wind up vying for the crown, if you ask any of these players — or really, any hitter in the minor or major leagues — what they look for when they step into the batter’s box, the answer will be the same: a slow fastball right over the middle of the plate. It’s the easiest pitch to hit. It’s what you want to see when you step up to the plate.
Now think about the equivalent in the realm of politics. What would be the simplest way to knock the ball out of the park? What would be the most basic question to answer, one that would allow a candidate or public official to hit a home run in the eyes of the public and the voters?
Personally, I can think of nothing more straightforward than what President Trump was asked in the first presidential debate: Will you denounce white supremacists? Will you disavow their support and call out their vile acts and rhetoric?
A normal politician with a minimal shred of decency or a moral core — or, truly, any average Texan, American, or human being — would know what to do in that moment. You offer a full-throated condemnation. You call white supremacy what it is: a racist, hateful, bigoted, antisemitic, Islamophobic, chauvinist, misogynist movement with no place in American society or discourse.
Any candidate in that scenario would make it clear that white supremacy is a growing cancer in the American body politic, a threat to our values and our character, a driver of the terrifying rise in hate crimes in the last four years, a deadly risk to our well-being that must be treated, destroyed and defeated by any means necessary.
Was that so hard?
For Donald Trump, I guess it was. Because he refused to say anything in the general vicinity of that strike zone. Instead, he whiffed. He told the Proud Boys — identified by the Anti-Defamation League as a hate group, founded by a man who’s openly trafficked in antisemitism and Holocaust denial — to “stand back and stand by.”
That wasn’t a denunciation. That was a directive from the person these extremist groups consider their ultimate leader. Their top commander was telling the troops: Wait for the opportune moment. Wait for me to give you the high sign. Then all bets are off.
How can anyone mistake his meaning? And what’s worse, was this even surprising, coming from a man who called neo-Nazis in Charlottesville “very fine people,” who launched his political career by calling immigrants rapists and murderers, who’s repeatedly used language drawn directly from the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and recently deployed the stereotype — not for the first time — about Jewish dual loyalty on a call ahead of the High Holidays?
Unfortunately, it wasn’t shocking in the least. It’s what we’ve come to expect. And that says as much about the sad, depressing state of this presidency as anything else.
It doesn’t have to be like this. We have a different option on the ballot Nov. 3, and Texas is no longer a shoo-in for the GOP. We have a say and a voice. Our votes can swing the election and save the country.
But there’s a broader reason to vote for Joe Biden, instead of against Donald Trump. Something more than the fact that he’s repeatedly denounced white supremacists, which, again, should be the bare minimum.
What’s important to remember about the former vice president is what he brings to the table beyond clearing that basic threshold — what he tried talking about in the debate when it wasn’t tossed off the rails by clownish and unpresidential interruptions.
What he offers is an agenda rooted in our deepest Jewish values and highest American ideals. A vision built around our best traditions of social justice.
This is the agenda of welcoming the stranger — the immigrant, refugee, asylum-seeker — yearning for a land of opportunity, remembering that we, ourselves, were once strangers too.
This is the agenda of tikkun olam, repairing the world — of tzedek tzedek tirdof, justice, justice shall you pursue — through securing health care for all; delivering economic justice, racial justice, climate justice, educational justice; preserving our environment and cleaner air for our kids and communities.
This is the agenda of treating every human being with dignity, created b’tzelem Elokim, in the image of God — and that includes defending equal rights for women, protecting women from violence in the home and harassment in the workplace, ensuring women can make their own health care decisions with their families and their doctors.
This is the agenda of the charge that says saving one life is akin to saving the world — because for anyone who’s lost a loved one to COVID-19, it can feel like the end of their universe. So they, and all of us, need a response to this pandemic that’s based on science. That’s rooted in the idea that we bear a responsibility, individually and collectively, to save lives and livelihoods.
When all is said and done, Joe Biden’s values drive him to a simple conclusion: He wants to heal the wounds in our society, repair the rifts in our communities, and restore the soul of our nation.
And that would be a true home run for our community, for Texas, and for our country.
Dallas attorney Marc Stanley, a former chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council, chairs Lawyers for Biden.