Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Liberty and Justice For All

by Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

Newspapers have been on his tail for years. He had been under investigation for two years. He spent $2 million on lawyers. He faced charges that he accepted four subsidized, rent-stabilized apartments that he wasn’t entitled to, that he failed to properly report his personal income, that he failed to pay income taxes on an offshore rental property, and that he improperly used his powerful position to raise money for a university school of public service named for him.

Despite the seriousness of the charges, Congressman Charlie Rangel was never in danger of going to jail—or even standing trial. After all, as a member of Congress, he enjoys full immunity from prosecution. And Rangel is not just any congressman; he is the former chairman of the committee that writes the very tax laws he violated.

Rangel simply blamed his failure to pay taxes on inadvertent bookkeeping errors and swore that he never intended to accrue any personal benefit he wasn’t entitled to.

Members of his party had remained loyal to him, refraining from any public criticism. In fact, his 80th birthday party this past summer was attended by many prominent public officials.

The day before the hearing he said, “All I can do is ask for time to be heard. I’m confident that at the end of the day, my constituents’ faith in me, as demonstrated by their overwhelming vote, will be well-founded,” he began, referring to his recent re-election in which he received 80% of the votes. “But we’ll wait and see,” he concluded.

The charade came to an end when he finally found himself before the House Ethics Committee, at which point he was expected to prove his innocence as he had confidently asserted he would.

Instead of tearing apart the allegations against him, Rangel launched into a tirade in which he claimed that the hearing should be postponed until he could raise a million dollars for his attorneys, in addition to the $2 million he had already paid them.

He could well afford to pay with his own money, but he wasn’t interested in doing that, he wanted other people to contribute to a defense fund. His lawyers weren’t interested in his stalling tactics anymore and walked off the case the night before the hearing.

After concluding his remarks, Rangel stormed out in protest, claiming that he was robbed of his due process rights.

He could have presented his side of the story and brought witnesses. He could have cross-examined the government’s witnesses. But he made no attempt to vindicate himself or dispute the claims against him.

With “clear and convincing evidence” to support 11 of the 13 counts against him, he was found guilty as charged.

New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg responded to the news by saying that “Charlie Rangel did an awful lot for New York City and we shouldn’t forget that.” The implication was that justice is served by giving Rangel a slap on the wrist for betraying the public trust with non-payment of taxes and improperly accepting gifts of subsidized apartments. After all, he’s done so much good during his career writing tax laws for the little people of the country, shouldn’t that entitle him to a few perks, such as breaking the law with impunity?

At the end of the day, Rangel had nothing to fear. He will receive a lecture in Congress and it will be over. Perhaps he will have to pay a fine and part with the tax money he held on to all these years, but he won’t lose his job, and he won’t have to go to jail.

Is that fair? Is that liberty and justice for all? What type of example does that set? What does that teach Americans about the fairness of the system? What does that teach Americans about liberty and justice for all?

Within the past couple of weeks, Bruce Karatz was to be sentenced for backdating stock options. The former CEO of KB Home was found guilty and faced six years in jail for violating accounting rules that the media had played up as though an awful crime had been committed. He was lucky that he was sentenced by Judge Otis B. Wright, a sensible person, who didn’t fall victim to what The Wall Street Journal termed “prosecutorial misconduct.”

Judge Wright said he couldn’t see putting Mr. Karatz away in jail for six years for a crime that did no harm to his company or shareholders.

Holman W. Jenkins Jr., writing in The Wall Street Journal on November 17, 2010, states: “We suppose that it’s humanly understandable that, finding themselves compelled to bring these cases, federal prosecutors stretched and kneaded the evidence to fulfill the media’s stereotype of backdating as theft and fraud against shareholders…

“By the estimate of University of Iowa’s Erik Lee, some 2,000 public companies must have engaged in backdating… Some 150 companies eventually restated their past results to conform to the proper rule for exercising such options. Yet only a few executives were singled out for prosecution, in a manner that left the observer scratching his head as to why the justice roulette wheel chose some but not others.

“Further reason for pause: The handful of subsequent convictions seemed to turn less on the act of backdating than on the self-preserving prevarications executives uttered once the posse arrived on their doorstep.”

“One critique can be found in the title of a book by Boston defense attorney Harvey Silverglate: ‘Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent.’ Mr. Silverglate believes that only a mobilization of ‘civil society’ can stop what he calls rampant abuse of prosecutorial discretion.

“In contrast, former prosecutor Joseph diGenova puts the onus on [Department of Justice] DOJ overseers: ‘if anyone thinks it’s anything other than prosecute-at-any cost, then they are wrong…. The department has been AWOL in supervising the ethics of its prosecutors,’ he told the [American Bar Association] journal.”

And then there was the trial last week of an admitted terrorist, who participated in the 1998 Al-Qaeda bombing of the American embassy in Tanzania which killed 224 people, 12 of them Americans. Thanks to the protections offered him by the court, he was acquitted of 284 of 285 charges.

How does that make you feel?

Those of us who care about other Jews, about our fellow Americans, and about ourselves must raise the flag for what is right and fair, for liberty and justice for all. We have to find the moral conviction and courage to fight for people who have been trampled on by an out-of-control system. While we do not condone wrongdoing of any sort, we cannot passively stand by as our brother is doomed to rot in jail because of the machinations of rogue prosecutors, in league with a trial judge who shed all pretense of impartiality in the trial and sentencing.

There are those who accuse us of defending a convicted felon. There are some who wonder why we dedicate ourselves to fighting for Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin’s right to receive a new trial. They want to know what motivates the people who raise money for his legal defense.

When justice is railroaded, everyone suffers. Sholom Mordechai is not only a victim; he is also a symbol of a sinister trend in law enforcement that puts all of us at risk.

Naturally, to those of us who are concerned with his case, the shocking disparity in the way he was treated, speaks to flaws in the justice system that can ensnare anyone. Bias, prejudice and lack of egalitarianism have no place in an American courtroom. Yet, experts are telling us we encounter it in a systemic way.

Make no mistake about it. This country’s justice system ranks well above that of almost every other nation in the world, and serves as an example for others to learn from. But due to flaws in the system that can and should be corrected, unscrupulous government employees can game the system in myriad ways, and use the laws of the land in the pursuit of self-serving agendas. When faced with a blatant example of this abuse, we must protest that everyone deserves to be treated fairly.

Look aside from the justice system and see what is transpiring in the area of airport security checks to gauge what happens when government’s primary motivator become the pursuit of an agenda. When self-serving agendas drive policy, the result is irrationality and chaos. Changes in airport security checks demonstrate just how far people are willing to go to impose skewed reasoning on the public in order to justify their political agendas.

Young children, little old ladies in wheelchairs, and masses of harmless and helpless people at airports are being treated worse than common criminals. Good people are put through unnecessary and humiliating routines. In the name of safety, basic common sense and fairness are ignored.

Everyone knows that the young child of Mid-America and the handicapped senior citizen on her way to a warm winter in Florida pose no danger to the flying public. It is no secret that the only people who blow up planes are radical Muslims. It is well known that Israel faces the greatest threat from Arab terrorists, yet in that country you are not forced to remove your shoes to get on a plane. They also do not force you to undergo a humiliating pat-down at whim.

The reason is that in Israel they are actually concerned about security. The security system at Ben Gurion Airport is not designed to satisfy an edgy public or politically correct politicians. It is not there just to offer the appearance of safety. It is there to ensure that the people who fly can expect a reasonable degree of calm knowing that they will not be blown up mid-air.

In Israel, security officials are trained to find bombers. They are not looking for seemingly suspicious objects; they are looking for dangerous people. They do not trust machines to inspect people, they trust people to evaluate other people and determine who is likely to be suicidal or on a mission to destroy.

They single out those people for inspection and allow the innocent to pass without humiliating them.

They accept that terrorists fit a profile and therefore have no issue with profiling travelers. There is no reason that this can’t be done here in the United States if the government’s security officials were truly interested in your safety. But they aren’t. There are other agendas at work here. The TSA and others are attempting to promote the fiction that all people are equal. That you and I, the young Iowa corn husker, the North Dakota grandma, the Iraq War veteran, and Abdul Ali Muhammad from Yemen all deserve to be treated the same. While that is true most of the time, it is wrong when you are looking for a bomber.

Were the TSA agents trained in profiling, the entire hubbub currently confronting the flying public would be hushed. But the administration will never admit to that, for it would blow up their liberal agenda.

This is but one example of what happens when people in power pursue agendas instead of justice, when politics is allowed to trump the voice of reason and common sense advancing a cause instead of the rights of the innocent, and when something is taken to the extreme instead of to its logical conclusion.

We have to be thankful that in this great country, the people have the right to protest and to rally for reform. We have to exercise that right to lobby for change. The constitution affords us protections and liberties that are unavailable to the same degree in any other country. We should be grateful for those blessings and not feel apologetic about utilizing them to reverse injustice, and to rein in those who make a career out of abusing the power of their position.

It is our hope that as we continue to battle for truth, integrity, honesty and fairness, those who have unfortunately been railroaded by abusers of the system will finally experience true and impartial justice.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Anshei Emes

by Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

At the beginning of this week’s parsha, Yaakov Avinu declares, “Katonti mikol hachassodim umikol ha’emes asher asisah es avdecha - I have become small because of all the kindness and truth which Hashem has performed with me…”

Yaakov’s gratitude for Hashem’s kindness needs no explanation. When Yaakov arrived from his father’s home, he was penniless and alone. Now he was returning to Eretz Yisroel, after two decades in Lavan’s home, with wives and children, laden with possessions. In the face of such an outpouring of kindness, Yaakov felt humbled and undeserving.

But what is meant by kindness and truth? Why would Hashem’s dealing truthfully with him evoke humbled gratitude in Yaakov? Rashi explains that Yaakov was grateful to Hashem for being true to His word, and fulfilling His promises to him.

Perhaps we can understand “emes” in this posuk in another sense as well. Yaakov was deeply grateful for being dealt with honestly. In a world of darkness, in a world of Lavans, one is confronted with subterfuge at every turn. One must navigate between liars and their lies as he seeks to pave a successful path.

A person is appreciative when meeting up with someone who deals with him honestly. Whether or not you are given the news you wanted or the answer you anticipated, you are thankful that you know the truth of your situation. You are able to form a meaningful plan because you know what your options are.

When people mislead you, they rob you of the ability to make a determination based on fact. You are forced to try to read between the lines and see past the deception in order to proceed safely.

Yaakov was thankful for being dealt with truthfully, though he wasn’t always happy with what he was told. He dispatched scouts to learn what kind of danger he faced as he set out on his trek back home. He certainly wasn’t happy to learn that his brother Eisav was approaching him with an army of four hundred men. But he was grateful that since he had been answered truthfully, he was able to prepare himself to confront Eisav.

Too often, we sense danger ahead, but we are unable to properly address our concerns because those we depend upon aren’t honest in their appraisals of the situation. We see ill winds blowing all around us, but if we don’t examine their roots and causes honestly, we can’t expect to be able to defend and fortify ourselves.

Our community seeks to deal with a wide range of serious problems, including shiduchim; abuse; drop-outs; children rejected by schools; overcrowded schools; rising tuitions; unemployment; inadequate incomes; the high cost of living and the myriad other issues which vex us. To formulate solutions, we must be able to honestly examine the substance of the issue without being straight-jacketed by tunnel vision, and political correctness. If we are not forthright in our introspection, we will be overwhelmed by the dynamics and complexity of the difficulties.

People who care about the truth get angry when they are told a lie. People who seek out the truth are not afraid of it. The truth is what strengthens them. The more the facts emerge, the clearer their focus and the stronger their convictions.

Contrast this approach with individuals whose philosophy is built on self-deception and lies. Think of those whose way of life is fraught with duplicity. These people are threatened by the truth. They are scared of the facts. They hide from reality. And when confronted and boxed in by the truth, they lash out angrily.

People who know that they are right don’t have to sweep issues under the rug. They are secure in their beliefs and do not have to resort to convoluted thinking, denials or verbal attacks to get across their message. When faced with an issue they are able to examine it forthrightly and honestly, and arrive at a proper solution.

Similarly, countries built on lies and tyrannical governments lock their borders. They don’t permit their people to leave and don’t allow foreigners to enter. They are afraid that if their citizens learn the truth, they will revolt. So these governments feed their citizens a steady diet of fabrications in an attempt to indoctrinate them with the greatness of their government and idyllic way of life they have created for their citizens. But these leaders know that it is all a sham, so they ensure that the masses are never educated about the truth.

Much the same, leaders of democracies who can’t face up to the truth usually don’t last too long. Consider the slow and steady political decline of our current president. Though his party was thoroughly trounced in the most recent election, he refuses to recognize the vote as a referendum on his policies. Though he was touted as the best orator to ever occupy the White House, and although he drew thousands of ecstatic listeners to his rallies prior to election, he blames his plummeting ratings on his failure to properly communicate with the American people.

Someone who can’t recognize the truth, even when it smacks him in the head, is bound to repeat his errors and cling to his misguided policies until it is too late to reverse course, and he is voted out of office.

President Obama not only reneged on his promise to be a post-partisan leader, but also on his platform to restore America’s respect and leadership in the world. It’s not only domestic policy that has been his undoing, he has also dropped the ball in the international arena. He embarrassed himself when he arrived in South Korea for the G-20 meeting and blamed the world for his country’s economic weakness.

China, Germany, France and England rejected US advice on how to recover from the worldwide recession. Their economies are on track, while Obama continues to devalue the dollar, seek to raise taxes, and increase the deficit. Dishonesty about the problem will only lead to unworkable solutions and more misery.

Lately, it has become fashionable for people in our community to advocate that we assume the voting habits of a dependency and ignore our obligation to seek a better social environment for ourselves and our children. On the one hand, we lament the moral depravity of American society and on the other, we enable them to foster their brand of immorality on the broader public. We can’t have it both ways. We can’t complain about society and then promote those who create an environment that morally and spiritually threatens us.

We should not be voting for people who destroy the nation’s economy, thinking that it will have no impact upon us. If the economy falters, that means less money for mosdos, less money for tuition, and less money for bikur cholims. We all suffer. If more and more of our hard-earned income goes toward taxes, then we will have less money to support our children in kollel and less money to help those who are destitute. There will be more unemployment, more stores closing down, and more people who can’t pay their bills.

It’s not only for altruistic reasons that we should vote for the better party. It is for self-serving ones as well.

The truth is the truth, any way you slice it. Our task is to fight for the truth, not to clear the way for falsehoods because we think that there will be some temporary payoff.

As Bnei Avrohom, Yitzchok v’Yaakov, we are heirs to a golden heritage of fidelity to the truth, the laws of the land, honesty and forthrightness in all that we do. We don’t believe that the ends justify the means, no matter how tempting the means or the ends, no matter how compelling and persuasive the argument. That is part of the duplicity that we must dismantle.

We know that sheker ein lo raglayim. Anything built on falsehood will eventually crumble. It may take time, and for a fleeting hour the equivocator will seem to prosper, but the inevitable result is failure and being forced to pay dearly for ill gotten, unprincipled, gains.

Cutting corners or lying for monetary gain is never a good idea. The declining economy, coupled with the irresponsible attitude that honesty in all matters is no longer a must, leads people to take risks they wouldn’t normally take. Those risks include fudging numbers and skirting the truth.

We become smaller when we lie. We are reduced when we aren’t truthful. Falsity diminishes us, makes us less real. We shrink in stature when we are dishonest. We lose on all levels when we don’t honestly look at the problems that confront us.

Yaakov Avinu merited to grow, prosper and receive Hashem’s chessed and emes because he was an ish emes. If we want to succeed as a people, as a community and as individuals, we should make it our goal to become anshei emes v’chessed.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


by Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

Throughout the history of the Jewish people, there has scarcely been an epoch when, in one country or another, we haven’t been subjected to malicious defamation. All through the ages, despite our best efforts to be exemplary citizens of our host countries, we have been hated.

It always began innocently enough. Then it escalated according to a predictable pattern and was repeated with countless variations, always beginning with the charge of disloyalty to the government and to the host country. From there the charges typically included accusations so delusional that it would have been comical had it not been so catastrophic.

Among the worst canards was the charge during the Medieval Ages that Jews poisoned the wells, thereby causing the Black Plague that wiped out half of Europe. Despite the lack of evidence and the fact that large numbers of Jews died from the plague along with everyone else, the masses believed this nonsense. Whenever a calamity struck the city, or country, blame was automatically pinned on the Jew. There was never any proof; there never had to be. It was obvious. It was ingrained. It had to be the Jew’s fault. There was no proof, but everyone believed it.

There was a time not that long ago when everyone believed that Jews were baby killers. They were suspected of snatching babies from Christian mothers and slaughtering them to drink their blood. Think about it. We are - and always were - a humanitarian, peace-loving people. Despite persecution and discrimination, we managed to rise to the highest echelons of government and finance in many of our host countries, and we won distinction for a wide range of humanitarian accomplishments. Yet, the populace actually believed that Jews murdered babies.

These ridiculous accusations were not limited to the primitive superstitious masses of the Dark Ages. We see this peculiar form of insanity recurring in every age, including our own. The Palestinian leadership has accused the Israeli government of poisoning the chewing gum sold to Arab children. A number of years ago, in front of Hillary Clinton, Yassir Arafat’s wife said that Jews were poisoning the Palestinian water supply.

Despite our higher standards of hygiene and cleanliness, we were always portrayed as being filthy, dirty and slimy. We were the sacrificial lamb offered up to the pagan gods whenever there was a need for someone to be blamed. Rational or not, it worked. Seventy years ago, the world witnessed the Holocaust, made possible by the mad paroxysm of Jew-hatred that swept most of the European continent. A serious attempt to finally rid the world of the Jewish problem garnered barely a raised finger from anyone in the civilized world.

Thankfully, today, in most parts of the world, the urge to demonize Jews as a people is less than it was, but it is always lurking in the shadows, often reappearing in muted form as hatred of Israel. Iran’s ruler is arming himself with nuclear weapons to fulfill his aim of wiping the Jewish state off the map. The world toys with him and prattles on and on about stopping him, but shows no inclination to take serious measures to bring Iran’s nuclear program to a halt.

This week Binyomin Netanayahu traveled to the US to deliver a speech on the dangers Iran poses to the world. The US administration spoke out against it. And the president condemned Israel for approving some additional apartments to be built in Yerushalayim. Israel’s historical ties to the land and the holy city are ignored in the latest attack on the legitimacy of the Zionist state. The media ignored Netanyahu’s speech and the dangers posed by Iran, Instead they dedicated their Mideast coverage to bashing Israel’s nefarious claims to east Jerusalem.

In most of the world media, Israel is depicted as an evil apartheid state. Jews around the world must always be on guard for the next act of terror. And we wonder why. What have we done to earn this enmity? When did this irrational hatred start and is there any hope at all of eradicating it?

Learning the parshiyos of Sefer Bereishis, we find that the world’s antipathy toward Jews began almost as soon as Avrohom Avinu, while contemplating the world, determined there had to be a Creator. This loathing of Jews has continued down the chain of generations. Our sages trace it to the world’s virulent rejection of the notion of man’s accountability to his Creator.

Avrohom’s own father wanted him out of the way. Nimrod tried to burn Avrohom alive. Avrohom was mocked and vilified. He was designated as Avrohom Ha’ivri, the one from the “other side.” That pariah status was transferred to his descendants, beginning with Yitzchok Avinu, who was treated as an outcast by his neighbors.

Wherever Yitzchok went, as related in last week’s parsha, his wells were stuffed up. Time after time, he was forced to move on, again encountering the same hostile reception. Though blessed with wealth and unquestionably a kind, peaceful, spiritual man, nobody wanted to have anything to do with him. They drove him away by plugging up the sources of his water supply.

In this week’s parsha, we learn how Yaakov Avinu was repeatedly lied to and tricked out of what was deservedly his. After working for Lavan for two decades, Yaakov is finally instructed by Hashem to return home. He then gathered his wives, his children and his flocks and departed for home.

Lavan caught up with him and accused him of stealing his property and running off like a thief. Yaakov responded by confronting Lavan, the paradigm con-artist, with the history of his subterfuge and dishonest dealings. Yaakov listed everything he had done for Lavan during his years of servitude to him. He enumerated all the ways that Lavan had robbed him, reminding him of how he altered the terms of Yaakov’s employment one hundred times in order to shortchange him.

All of this had no impact on the slippery, self-righteous Lavan. As if he hadn’t heard a word, Lavan merely insisted on his right of ownership over all that Yaakov had. “Habanos benosai, vehabonim bonai, vehatzon tzonai, vechol asher atah ro’eh li hu.”

The posuk doesn’t record Yaakov’s response to Lavan’s outrageous claims. The posuk recounts that Yaakov took a stone and held it up as a matzeivah. He sent his children to gather stones, and they took the stones and fashioned a “gal,” a mound, and had a meal there.

Our avos demonstrated for us how we are to respond to those who plot our downfall, seeking to destroy us through various schemes and accusing us of the very crimes that they themselves have perpetrated against us.

Despite the enmity and harassment, Avrohom continued to gain more adherents to the concept of One Creator to whom man owes an accounting for all his deeds. Yitzchok moved on and dug new wells. Yaakov carried on with his mission of raising twelve Shivtei Kah.

So often, we are attacked for our beliefs, and ridiculed for our lifestyle. We are maligned and misunderstood. When we raise awareness for Jews who have been unfairly treated by the justice system, instead of joining hands with us, people mock us and say we condone unlawful behavior, even though we clearly act to advance the cause of justice.

When we vote for the Democrat, we are called pinko-commie-liberals who haven’t gotten over FDR and his make-work projects which gave immigrant Jews the ability to sustain themselves and their families. When we vote for the Republican candidate, they say we are voting against our own interests. When we agitate for moral causes, we are vilified as being self-righteous and impractical. We can’t win.

When we point out the double standard in the world’s castigation of Israel and the unveiled world bias against the Jewish state, we are called unpatriotic. We are referred to pejoratively as Zionists, racists, and defenders of an imperial state which mistreats its Arab citizenry.

When we protest this defamation, our enemies accuse us of controlling the media, the banks, the politicians and the government. Yet, when we keep silent in the face of these vicious reincarnations of ancient libels, they spread even faster.

Faced with this conundrum, there is only one remedy. Our avos have taught us that in the face of vicious opposition, we are to hold course and remain loyal Jews. Even when mocked and beaten, we are to assert our beliefs and throw ourselves into acts of goodness. The more the haters harass us, the more Torah we are to study. The more they accuse us of sins we never committed, the more determined we must be to persist in our path of faith, kindness and justice.

The same advice applies to less epic challenges that confront us in our everyday lives. When your integrity is compromised and family and friends turn on you, or when you give everything you have to your job and your boss accuses you of goofing off, the natural urge is to fight with all your strength to set the record straight.

It hurts when people don’t judge you fairly. You are pained when people who ought to know better, say that you aren’t doing a good job. But what do you do about it? Do you shout back at them? Do you respond in kind? Do you keep on pressing your point even when you are getting nowhere and your adversary is clearly indifferent to your arguments?

Yaakov Avinu shows us the answer. When accused by Lavan, he set the record straight with his own testimony and refused to debate the issue any further. He set out to build.

When Lavan chased Yaakov and refused his entreaties, Yaakov told his children to gather stones and construct a gal. He was demonstrating for us that when the Lavans of the world vilify you, the proper course is not to respond in kind by throwing stones back at them. Instead, gather stones for the purpose of building.

When confronted with negativity and cynicism, when your motives are questioned and doubted, remain positive and assured. Keep your eyes on the goal and don’t get blind-sighted by the ruts on the way. Build.

Had Avrohom allowed himself to be cowed by the people of his day, he would have relinquished the role of progenitor of Am Yisroel. Had Yitzchok permitted the Pelishtim to deter him by blocking his water supply, he would not have merited being part of the glorious chain begun by his father. Had Yaakov succumbed to Lavan’s abuse, he never would have left his father-in-law’s home and wouldn’t have raised the twelve sons who formed the nucleus of our people.

It is difficult to persevere in the face of so much hostility and opposition. It takes toughness to be able to ignore naysayers and public opinion, but to succeed we must access moral courage by reaching into our deepest spiritual reserves. Our strength is Torah, our goal is Torah, our life is Torah. No one can take that from us, as hard as they try. As long as we remember that lesson, we will be strong, safe and victorious, and the path we have forged will lead to the ultimate redemption, may it be soon, in our days.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Tea Party and Us

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

It’s finally over. The much anticipated election of 2010 is now a part of history. Now it’s on to the presidential election of 2012. The energy poured into this election will be negligible compared to what is likely to be invested in the next presidential election.

Now that the Republicans have demonstrated their appeal to the majority of the American people, they will be further emboldened to win back the White House. The Democrat party, whose loss of touch with the people is increasingly on display, will be desperately trying to hold on to the power it still maintains, while seeking to prevent a rollback of the progressive legal advances that have proved so unpopular with the masses.

Two years ago, Barack Obama overcame the odds, winning election to the presidency as a uniter, not a divider. He sold himself as a post-partisan politician who would ignore party labels, and who would govern in a bi-partisan manner. His election, he said, would usher in a historic era during which America would regain its preeminent position in the world, the economy would return to its full strength, fairness would return to the country’s taxation system, and an era of brotherhood and peace would dawn.

The entrenched power structure and the mainstream media delighted in Obama’s victory and did all they could to sustain the momentum generated by that victory in hopes of ushering in a new utopian era.

But while the American people were looking for a pro-growth agenda to return lost jobs, the administration engaged in class warfare. When Obama supporters and those who elected a Democrat Congress sought legislation which would ramp up the economy and enable their real estate holdings and investments to return to pre-recession values, they were served up a partisan agenda of deficit-enhancing bills which did just the opposite.

The people were sold a stimulus bill which did everything but stimulate the economy, and a health care bill which will only ruin health care and raise their taxes.

The American people saw their own economic prospects dim, while their tax bills grew, their health care was threatened, and the government continued to grow at a fearful rate.

The hypocrisy of the leadership in Washington on both sides of the aisle became evident to many of those who had voted out the Republicans last time around, only to exchange them for an even more incompetent set of characters.

Jewish voters, who overwhelmingly vote for Democrat candidates, fretted while Obama and his administration tossed Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu about like an old, unwanted rag doll. The threats to withhold funding for Congressional candidates in a tough year and other traditional methods of political pressure bore fruit and Obama came around. He held a sulcha with Netanyahu and the Jews breathed a temporary sigh of relief.

But with the peace process floundering and Obama desperate for an easy international diplomatic success he can point to, many fear that during the next two years, he will again resort to making ruthless demands on Israel.

His promise to influence Iran to renounce its nuclear ambitions by treating its leaders with the respect they covet, coupled with a policy of imposing sanctions, has not borne fruit.

Bush’s war in Iraq, vilified by the liberals, was won, while Obama’s war in Afghanistan is bogged down by incompetent leadership and aggravated by insufficient troops and dependence upon the government of a corrupt lunatic.

When Harry Reid became the Majority Leader of the US Senate, the unemployment rate in his home state of Nevada was 4.4 percent. Today it stands at 14.4%. Such dire economic numbers prove the falsity of his claims that the state needs him to represent them in Washington.

In general, more people are waking up to the fact that a biased media has for too long been manipulating the facts and controlling public opinion through propaganda. But with the growing influence of people such as Rush Limbaugh and other astute commentators, and the ability of people to educate themselves to the true facts, political naïveté is no longer so rampant. People and organizations that depend upon a gullible public in order to finance their agenda are going to find themselves marginalized.

It takes time, but eventually voters catch on. They realize that they have been duped by deceitful leaders motivated not by an altruistic drive for public service, but by an appetite for power. These glory-seekers see the masses as props to help them maintain their grip on power and financial opportunity.

Politically well-connected individuals and some privileged elites positioned themselves to control access to the media, to elected officials, and to sources of funding for their pet communal projects. Anyone seeking government grants, political favors or justice has had to go through the elites who control the access and the spigots.

Now, perhaps public servants will begin to realize that they are responsible to the voters who empowered them to represent the public. If nothing else, maybe this election will remind people that hypocrisy, hubris and a feeling of entitlement are antithetical to true leadership.

Leaders must maintain contact with the people who empower them. They have to regularly prove themselves to the masses. Delusional individuals, who think they are all-knowing and all-powerful, and who surround themselves with “yes men” as they sit ensconced in their ivory towers, will inevitably be toppled.

This is as true in our world as it is in the general society. Many of the very people who view themselves as our leaders and spokesmen have lost touch with their base. Many of them view us as insignificant peons upon whom they can trample in order to maintain their power. They have forgotten that celebrity is not a goal in and of itself, but rather a tool to utilize for the betterment of the community. Political connections are made in order to be able to advocate for communal needs, not to promote a selfish infatuation with power.

People feel that in days gone by, there were a few chosen selfless individuals to whom the needy could turn and earn an attentive ear, a strong shoulder, and effective muscle. Today, machering is a cottage industry. Public service does not appear to be the main motivation.

The needs of our community are great. We desperately require unimpeachable individuals who work for the communal welfare with mesirus nefesh and are blessed with siyata diShmaya as an outgrowth of their dedication to performing tzorchei tzibbur b’emunah.

We are plagued by lethargy, apathy and fatigue. We are in economic distress. Our way of life costs more than many people earn. Weddings are an added burden. We have rising tuition costs and schools unable to properly pay their rabbeim and teachers. We don’t have enough left over to support the less fortunate and mosdos haTorah vochesed in this country and in Eretz Yisroel.
There are too many singles who can’t find a shidduch, too many children who want to go to school and are rejected by every school in town, and too many children who have rejected school and are at risk of dropping out entirely from the community.

We have to create an environment that encourages and allows people to rise from the grassroots to address our concerns. We need people with innovative ideas to deal with the challenges we face. We need people who are unfazed by corrupting temptations, will withstand elitist pressures, and will not succumb to inertia. We need passionate young people who have not yet been turned cynical by the daunting tasks they face.

We are blessed with many intelligent, altruistic, loyal people who can rise to the challenge if tested and given the opportunity. This year’s political revolution was spawned by regular people. Ordinary people can accomplish the extra-ordinary if given a chance. Properly nurtured, the guy next door can be the one who helps formulate solutions and rallies the whole block to coalesce around them.

The Tea Party isn’t necessarily a passing phenomenon and it may very well have lasting effects on the political life of this country. If properly studied, it may have a positive influence on what plagues us as well.