Jews and Democrats (vs. "elite WASPs" and Republicans)

For example, only 5 of 159 donors from the all-gentile California Club in Los Angeles gave to Democrats in 1968. The situation was the same at two similar clubs for which I had membership lists at the time, the Pacific Union in San Francisco, where only 5 of 89 donors gave to Democrats, and the Detroit Club in Detroit, where 5 of 110 gave to Democrats.

From C. Wright Mills disciple G. William Domhoff's The Power Elite and the State: How Policy Is Made in America:

Ferguson and Rogers not only miss the role of the South and its allies during the New Deal, they are blind to the great importance of Jewish contributors to the Democrats in every large city and at the national level since the 1960s. The material base of the party is now in a religious group that gives primarily to Democrats whatever the donor's particular business sector may happen to be. In this section I am going to marshall evidence to show that Ferguson and Rogers mistake religion for business sector in explaining Mondale's 1984 contributions. But several caveats must be registered before proceeding in order to head off potential misunderstandings. First, the only reason Jewish donors are so important to the Democrats is that most of the rich, northern gentiles have defected to the Republicans. Second, there is no mystery as to why most wealthy Jews remain Democrats, as I confirmed for myself in interviews with major Jewish donors in 1970 and 1971 (Domhoff, 1972). Not only are their family roots in the Democrats, and their community values more sympathetic toward helping the poor (Fuchs, 1956; Lipset and Raab, 1984), but they fear antisemitic Christians as well. As long as there is a fanatical evangelical and reactionary right in the Republican party, it is likely that the Jews will remain Democrats (cf. Isaacs, 1974; Cohen, 1989). Third, Jews remain Democrats in part because they do not fully trust rich gentiles. After all, those upstanding Episcopalians and Presbyterians have kept Jews out of upper-class social clubs in most cities until very recently, if any change has been made at all (Baltzell, 1964; Zweigenhaft and Domhoff, 1982). Finally, it needs to be said that not all Jewish donors give to Democrats. Twenty to 30 percent may give to Republicans in a typical election, and an even higher percentage in an atypical election where the Democratic nominee is perceived as anti-Israel, tolerant of antisemitism, or identified with the evangelical right-wing. [. . .]

By the 1940s, as the horrors of the holocaust became more apparent and the hopes for a Jewish state greatly increased, most Jews were supporting the Democrats with their donations. Five of the eight families listed by Overacker (1945:910-911) as giving $15,000 or more to the Democrats in 1944 were Jewish. Many of the prominent Jewish donors of the next 20 years appeared as major contributors for the first time in that year. In an analysis of distinctive Jewish names, Webber discovered that the split in favor of the Democrats was 85-15 in 1944 and 70-30 in 1956.

The role of Jewish contributors within the Democratic party in the 1950s can be seen in a study of the 105 largest donors for 1952 and 1956 (Domhoff, 1967:94). Religious affiliation could be determined for 65 of these people, and 32 percent of them were Jewish.

The relative importance of gentiles and Jews in the 2 parties since 1960 can be seen in my study of those who gave $10,000 or more in 1960, 1964, and 1968. There were 60 known Republican contributors of $10,000 or more in 1960; 10 percent of those identifiable as to religion were Jewish. On the other hand, 55 percent of all identifiable Democratic donors of $10,000 or more in that year were Jewish. The percentages drops slightly for both parties in 1964: Jewish contributors made up 4 percent of 47 big Republican donors, 44 percent of 67 Democrats. [. . .]

When all was said and done, I had only a few differentiating factors. One was region, with the southerners still Democrats in 1970 despite a strong tendency to support Republicans at the national level. Another was ethnicity, with Jews and Catholics favoring Democrats, which mirrored the well-known voting statistics of the 1960s (e.g., Hamilton, 1972). A third factor was liberality: there were a few rich Protestants with very liberal views whom I could only define as mavericks because they had no business connections among themselves nor with other Democratic donors.

Any relationship between ethnic or regional factors and business groups or business sectors was very weak. Many of the Wall Street investment bankers who backed the Democrats did come from the investment banks started by Jews (Supple, 1957; Wise, 1957, 1963, 1968; Carosso, 1970). However, there were Republicans in all these firms as well, including several gentiles who had be. come partners. What differentiated these investment firms from the non-Jewish ones was that the latter were almost entirely Republican-and still completely gentile at the time.

I did find through a study of interlocking directorates and stock offerings that the investment banks with Jewish origins had business ties to some Jews and Texans who were Democrats. But I also found gentile Democrats in the South and Texas who did business with Republican gentiles in the North. None of the people I interviewed thought there were any parts of the corporate community that were particularly Democratic. Put another way, I once tried to support a theory along the lines of the one proposed by Ferguson and Rogers, but I could find no evidence for it.

The dramatic difference between gentile and Jewish businesspeople in their support for the Republican and Democratic parties also can be seen by studying the donations of those who belong to exclusive gentile and Jewish social clubs. For example, only 5 of 159 donors from the all-gentile California Club in Los Angeles gave to Democrats in 1968. The situation was the same at two similar clubs for which I had membership lists at the time, the Pacific Union in San Francisco, where only 5 of 89 donors gave to Democrats, and the Detroit Club in Detroit, where 5 of 110 gave to Democrats. Since there is every reason to believe that these clubs include a cross section of the entire business community, it is hard to see how a Democratically oriented business sector could exist.

By way of contrast, Jewish clubs contained both Democratic and Republican donors. Within the Harmonie Club in New York, the oldest of Jewish men's clubs in the country, with a very strong contingent of German Jews, there were 36 Republican and 36 Democrat donors. At the Standard Club, the Harmonie's equivalent in Chicago, but with fewer German Jews, there were 23 members who gave to the Democrats and 11 who gave to the Republicans.

Perhaps the best indication of the political inclinations of successful Jewish businesspeople whatever their business sector can be seen in the donations of the delegates and governors of the American Jewish Committee, the most prestigious Jewish organization in the country. In 1968, 43 delegates and governors gave to the Democrats, 27 gave to the Republicans. Four gave to both parties, and almost all of them gave to Republican Senator Jacob Javits of New York, at the time the most prominent Jewish elected official in the country.

Just as the overwhelmingly Republican donations from members of gentile social clubs militate against any claims about some business sectors being more Democratic, so too do declines in Jewish support for Democratic presidential candidates in some election years deny that economic self-interest could be affecting their giving. In 1972, for example, many Jews were very disturbed by McGovern's views on Israel. According to Isaacs (1974: 1), he lost the support of most traditional Jewish supporters of the party when he gave the wrong answers about Israel at a meeting in New York with major Jewish fund-raisers.

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