Losers take it all – Mishpacha Magazine

A typically Jewish idea – that it can be a great honor to be a loser

OWhen Rabbi Motty Berger of Aish HaTorah spoke of Akeidas Yitzchak, he would describe a conversation between a father and son about the meaning of life. The son was asking his father if there was anything in life worth dying for. “If not,” asked the son, “why did you give birth to me…to die?”

His argument was that since death is inevitable, when a parent gives life to their child, they essentially bring them into this world knowing that somewhere down the line that child will be torn from it. Why would a parent subject their beloved child to this – unless there are things in this world that are precious enough to make death worth living for eventually.

What makes life truly worth living is that there are things in life for which we are willing to give up life itself, rather than separate from it.

Rabbi Berger’s story came to mind when I read an excerpt from the speech that longtime Illinois Congressman Henry Hyde, a conservative Republican, would give to GOP freshmen. of each year. He would say to them:

This may seem strange, even ironic. You are here in full victory. And yet, it is precisely now that I ask you to contemplate the possibility of defeat – perhaps even the necessity of defeat…

Let me be clear: if you’re here simply as a bulletin board recording the current state of opinion in your district, you’re not going to serve your constituents or the United States Congress well. United…

Indeed, I feel compelled to put the question even more clearly: if you don’t know the principle, or the policy, for which you are willing to lose your office, then you are going to do harm here.

Hyde’s words reminded me, in turn, of recent events in Arizona, where Rusty Bowers served as a state legislator for eighteen years, the last four of which as Speaker of the House of Representatives of the State.

But after refusing to violate his oath to the Constitution by overturning the will of the 3.4 million Arizona voters who gave Joe Biden victory, he was censured in July by the Arizona Republican Party as “no longer a Republican in good standing”. The following month, he lost in the Republican primary to Trump-backed rival David Farnsworth, who told voters the 2020 presidential election was stolen by the “devil himself”.

A fourth-generation Arizonan, 69-year-old Bowers is a devout Mormon father of seven who upholds the Gd-inspired United States Constitution. Bowers says, “Family, faith, community – these are values ​​at a very fundamental level. Belief in God, that you should be held accountable for how you treat others, these were very conservative thoughts and the foundation of my politics.

In the 2020 election, he said, “I campaigned for Trump, went to his rallies, stood up on stage with him.” He expected the race in Arizona to be tight because a demographic of younger, college-educated women with young children were not voting for Trump, and when Biden won the state by 10,457 voice, he was not surprised.

When armed Trump supporters demonstrated outside counting centers in Arizona demanding “audits”, he brought with him a group of trusted attorneys to examine the counting process firsthand. “I’ve seen incredible amounts of protocols that have been followed and signed by volunteers – Democrats, Republicans, Independents. Yes, Republicans for shouting out loud! And they did it according to the book. (Later , a vote audit in Arizona’s largest county commissioned by pro-Trump politicians actually found 99 more votes for Biden and 261 fewer votes for Trump.)

In late November 2020, he received a call from Trump and Rudolph Giuliani, claiming that 200,000 illegal immigrants and 6,000 dead had voted in Arizona, and urging him to form a special legislative committee to investigate. He told them they had to provide hard evidence. “I said, ‘I won’t do anything like that until you bring me something. Let’s see. I’m not going to have circus time in the House of Representatives.

Then they cited an “obscure Arizona law” whose text has never been found that would allow the Republican-controlled legislature to kick Biden voters out and replace them with Trump alternatives. Bowers said, “Oh, wait a minute. So now you’re asking me to overturn the Arizona residents’ vote? I have sworn an oath to the US constitution, the state constitution and its laws. Which of these am I supposed to break? »

Later, John Eastman, the law professor advising Trump, called Bowers to implore him to “decertify” voters, saying, “Do it and let the courts sort it all out.” Bowers said, “No.”

As January 6 approached, motorcades of honking vans began passing his home, displaying MAGA flags and digital signs accusing him of despicable crimes. Inside her home, her daughter Kacey was bedridden, suffering from end-stage liver failure. “She would get emotional and say, ‘What are they doing over there?’ “, he recalls. She died three weeks later.

JTo protect his family, Rusty Bowers came out of his house to confront the protesters. A man, a member of the far-right Three Percenters militia, was shouting obscenities and carrying a pistol. “I had to get as close to him as possible to defend myself if he went for the gun,” Bowers said. “It never occurred to me to give up. Definitely not. I don’t like bullies. It’s a constant in my life: I. do. Not. Like. Bullies.

When a bill was proposed to empower the Republican-controlled Arizona Legislature to review the ballot tabulation process and unilaterally reject any election results, Bowers killed it by sending it to languish in the twelve committees of the legislature. “I was trying to send a definitive message: This is rubbish. Taking away the basic right to vote, the idea that the legislature could nullify your election — that’s not conservative. It’s fascist. And I’m not a fascist.

In the same August primary in which Bowers lost, all of the statewide nominations went to enthusiastic supporters of the annulment of the 2020 election. Mark Finchem, who was in attack on the US Capitol on January 6 and is still trying to decertify Biden’s presidency, is the party’s nominee for secretary of state and is reportedly in charge of Arizona’s election administration.

After the primary, Bowers reflected on the state of Arizona politics, holding his thumb and index finger so close together they were almost touching. “The veneer of civilization is so thin,” he said. “It still exists – I haven’t been hanged yet. But Holy Moly, it’s just crazy. The place has lost its mind.

“The constitution hangs by a thread. The funny thing is, I always thought it would be the other guys. And this is my side. It breaks my heart: that we would be the people who would abandon the constitution to win an election. It blows my mind.

But Bowers remains optimistic. “It’s not like I’m alone in the desert. There are many people from all over the United States who thank me.

I am one of them. I thank Rusty Bowers for standing up for the democracy that has made America a safe haven for my people and standing up against attempts to undermine it, whether by state politicians in suits or a mob of armed thugs outside someone’s house.

But I also thank him for something else. In recent years, various ideas have been injected as toxins into American blood. One is that you have to win at all moral costs, because there is no worse fate than being a “loser”. As the former president told his chief of staff, John Kelly, among the graves at Arlington Military Cemetery: “I don’t get it. What was there for them?

Contrary to his “I win, I win, I always win” claim, he often lost – the 2016 popular vote, then both houses of Congress, then the 2020 election – and this man’s bottomless need. is not a “loser”. is turning America upside down.

So I thank Rusty Bowers, a Mormon, for exemplifying a uniquely Jewish idea – that it can be a great honor to be a loser, because there are noble things worth losing, even even to die.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 927. Eytan Kobre can be contacted directly at kobre@mishpacha.com)

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