“Are you going to vote for Obama?” my 14-year-old daughter, Misgav, asked me the other day.
“I don’t vote in American elections,” I replied, “because I’m Israeli.”
“But you could vote, right?”
“I could,” I acknowledged. “I’m also an American citizen. But the last time I voted was in 1980. Once I decided to make my life here and began voting in Israeli elections, I didn’t think it would be right to vote in American ones, too.”
“You should vote for Obama,” Misgav said.
“Maybe I should,” I acknowledged.
It’s a dilemma. I retain my American passport and file a tax return with the IRS every year, but I don’t maintain a residence in the U.S. I have served in a foreign army and have no intention of ever returning to the country I grew up in.
On the other hand, the results of American elections undoubtedly affect my life as much as do the results of Israeli elections. As Gershom pointed out yesterday, my family is less physically safe because of the Bush administration’s misguided invasion of Iraq and its failure to pursue a vigorous diplomatic initiative between Israel and the Palestinians. My income, largely dollar-based, has declined by more than a quarter over the past year because of the Bush administration’s insane economic policies. And I’m involved in the discourse over American issues and policy through my work as a journalist, writer, and blogger.
Gershom tells me that he once agreed with my position but began to vote when George W. Bush acceded to the presidency after loosing an election. The fiasco of 2000 showed us that every vote counts.
This coming U.S. election will in large measure set the course of my children’s lives. So maybe Misgav is right. Maybe I should set my principles aside and cast that vote.