Election Madness

I had the amazing opportunity this weekend to spend my time with a group of friends. We declared ourselves officially off the clock. And what did
we do? We talked about elections. Three elections in particular, in fact: Pakistan, Kenya and Iowa. And it’s not like election fever is going to pass anytime soon.

Kenya’s current troubles take a bit of explaining, at least to me, since my political knowledge of that part of the world is a little weak. Fortunately, Laura, one of my merry band, is interested in focusing her work in international relationships on religious conflicts, and Africa is her area of expertise. Here’s what I gather: the current tensions
in Kenya—which has included the deaths of hundreds of people—were sparked by recent elections, which quite possibly were rigged, but really, the
turmoil is tribal. The election results, contested by the international community and many Kenyans, are above and beyond their political import,
conduits for the aggressions among Kenya’s many tribal groups.

The political turmoil in Pakistan following the assignation of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto proceeded the upcoming election, in which Bhutto was to have been a candidate. Elections have been pushed back six weeks, and, while rather transparent attempts by General Musharraf to manipulate the upcoming vote come to light, voters are extremely tense.

And, of course, Obama and Huckabee. Huckabee and Obama. I resent that Iowa has so much power over the course of the election, but at least they
decided to make it a little more interesting for the rest of us.

Other than chew over these immensely interesting and varied elections, what I did this weekend is begin a book I’m both intrigued and intimidated
by: Judaism as a Civilization by Mordechai Kaplan, the guidebook to Reconstructionist Movement. I don’t know enough about the Reconstructionist movement, but as a lover of history, I’m loving this book. I am entirely struck by the notion of rebuilding Judaism as a holistic entity. And, while I’ve really only begun it, I look forward to a Jewish future where issues like, of, concerning and surrounding international elections is implicitly a Jewish thing to care about.

My weekend’s take-home lesson? Voting matters. Elections matter. And that the right to vote, not extended to all of our sisters, is a chance to really
participate in something. With that said, make sure you’re registered!

–Mel Weiss