by David SeidemannIssue of March 12, 2010/ 26 Adar 5770Well, I’m back. My respite from writing this weekly column was just a few weeks. The fact that I have once again picked up the pen signals the end of my foray into politics. Though brief, it was eye opening and, in the end, my decision not to run for Congress was the proper one, albeit one made with mixed emotions. As each day passes since last Friday when I made my final decision not to run, I am more comfortable than ever that it was the correct decision.
I learned more about politics and political operatives from this experience than I learned as a political science major, once upon a time, and from years of following politics closely. What I learned could never have been learned from the outside. I had to actually travel to Washington, file the paperwork, commit myself to the possibility of running, and interview with the heads of the Nassau County Republican Party - all in order for me to be able to make a realistic decision whether or not this was the proper path for me to pursue.
Ironically the same friends and family members that encouraged me to run were the ones that were most relieved when I decided not to. Yes, there were a few, such as my father and my wife, who thought I needed my head examined for even considering a run for elected office; both cited the toll it would take on family life. I wasn’t blind to that toll but, initially, I felt that it would be offset by the example I would be setting for my children. An example of public service - an Orthodox Jew not taking for granted the United States of America; not taking for granted all the good that she has provided to Jews and to Israel. At the same time I saw an opportunity to hold America’s feet to the fire to continue that support for Israel, unaffected by the rants and ravings of those who would push Israel into the Red Sea.
Mounting an effective campaign against at least a half dozen Republican challengers would’ve entailed raising approximately $750,000. Assuming I was victorious in the primaries, a campaign against the incumbent, Democrat Carolyn McCarthy, would have required raising another $500,000, at least. Though daunting, fundraising was the least of my concerns. If I would be able to believe all of those that pledged their support to me, I was confident that the money could be raised.
I was also confident that I could win a primary and was similarly confident that Ms. McCarthy was vulnerable this year, given the present political climate in Washington. So made me decide not to throw my yarmulke into the ring? As with most things in life, there was a combination of factors. I surveyed not only the political landscape in 2010 but also the political landscape in 2012. For reasons that are beyond the scope of this column, once I surveyed 2012 I learned something that made me lean against running in 2010.
All the while I was haunted by the words of my 8 year-old, who asked me one night, “If you win, who will help me with my homework?” I felt appropriate arrangements could be made to compensate for my absence but never fully pushed that question out of my mind. Though something I really wanted, was this something that my wife and children bargained for? Could my desire to be a member of the House of Representatives trump the desires of the representatives of my family living in my house?
I was leaning towards a definitive “no” until I received a letter from another candidate written to a constituent in Cedarhurst. Written by a supposed friend of Israel, the letter made me shudder as its author equated the need for secure Israeli borders with the need for a Palestinian state. It equated Palestinian suffering with the suffering of the Israelis and laid equal blame and a moral equivalency to the actions of both sides. I was furious. I became more convinced than ever that I had to run, to set the record straight, and to be a vocal supporter for Israel.
But G-d rules this world and a major development in my law firm made it impossible for me to leave the firm right now and, in fact, require even more of my time. I had unfinished business with clients that I could not pass off to another lawyer or to my partner. And the development that forced me to refocus on the law firm also caused me to refocus my attention on being there for my wife and assisting in the upbringing of our children in their formative years.
So, the door is closed on my 2010 congressional run but I don’t believe I have seen the last of the political arena.
America is still in trouble and Israel is still vulnerable and voices need to be raised. My voice will be raised now, not as a congressman but perhaps as a novice journalist and a community member who is committed now more than ever to help reshape America domestically and internationally in any small way that I can. I challenge all of you to do the same. America will be the better for it, Israel will be the better for it, but, most importantly, you will be better for it.
David Seidemann is a partner with
the law firm of Seidemann & Mermelstein.
He can be reached at (718) 692-1013
and at firstname.lastname@example.org