There are two subjects in America that greatly impact its citizens – sports and elections. People invest tremendous amounts of time, energy and money into both pursuits, to the point that at times they almost consume them. They can become the very air they breathe.
While the subjects of elections and politics may share commonalities, they differ from each other in actuality. And it can become problematic when people relate to both of these subjects in the same manner.
Sports fans become very attached to their team, especially when they are young. And the attachment to a certain team often remains. Fans may obsess over the players, owners, and seasons. They may research an individual player’s credentials and background and spend an inordinate amount of time and money following a team’s progress and attending games. They can become emotional about their favorite team and players and may take failure and criticism personally.
People seem to do the same with elections. However, there is a vast difference between the two because of the underlying purpose behind them. The purpose of elections is to elect leaders who will guide and shape the country we love and respect. Especially as Jews, we thank Hashem the Almighty for the privilege of living in a country where we are able to live a life of freedom that no other country in the world ever afforded us before.
We have tremendous gratitude for the rights of each individual, no matter what religion one serves. Every religion is welcome in America, and everyone has the right to choose and voice his opinions. Not only can a person speak his mind, but the U.S. gives each person an election day in November to put together a team and an agenda, whereby ideas can be transformed into laws.
On election day, we have the right to vote for Democratic or Republican policies. Unlike a sports fan, who rarely varies his allegiance from the team of his locale or youth, voters evaluate the policies and values of different candidates and choose accordingly. Partisanship can vary depending on a candidate’s political philosophy. A registered Democrat can cross party lines and vote Republican and vice versa.
This freedom to vote is unique and is an entitlement that all American citizens should cherish. And it is one that American Jews especially should thank the Almighty for and hold dear.