By Ellen Wexler
If the 2016 election weren’t surreal enough, if this year’s campaign ads weren’t strange enough: Well, now there’s this.
It is, at first, an ordinary campaign ad. Created by Bend the Arc, a progressive Jewish group, the video starts with text on the screen: A message from Grandma & Grandpa.
What follows is a montage of elderly men and women—our collective Jewish grandparents, presumably—talking about Donald Trump: We’ve seen this before, they say. We’ve seen this in Germany and we don’t want to see it here. Donald Trump is narcissistic. Petulant. Far more than a putz. “If you vote,” one woman says, “the future is yours.”
But if you don’t vote? There will be consequences (beyond, that is, the victory of an unwanted candidate):
“I’ll haunt you,” one woman deadpans, widening her eyes menacingly, “when I die.”
And if that’s not enough to get you to the polls? Alas, the Jewish grandparents quickly clarify, this will be a very specific kind of haunting:
“I will haunt your Tinder, and only let you swipe right on rabbis’ daughters.”
“I’ll spoil every episode of Game of Thrones.”
“I will come back from the dead, and I will unlike all your Facebook updates … whatever that means.”
The video is part of a Bend the Arc campaign, called We’ve Seen This Before, dedicated to mobilizing American Jews against Trump. It’s also a spin off of a 2008 election video, called “The Great Schlep.” Created by comedian Sarah Silverman, “The Great Schlep” asked Jews to convince their grandparents in Florida to vote for Barack Obama. “There’s nobody more important or influential over your grandparents than their grandkids. You,” Silverman says. “If they vote for Barack Obama, they’re going to get another visit this year.”
Today, Bend the Arc has been called “the leading Jewish PAC dedicating itself to protesting Trump’s candidacy,” and its 501(c)(4) tax status gives it more freedom to participate in politics than many other nonprofits. The group’s message: Knowing the oppression Jews have faced throughout history, American Jews today see parallels in Trump’s comments and policies. “Many of our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents fled to the United States to escape violence and discrimination from around the world,” the group writes on its website. “And when they arrived here, many of our ancestors who had escaped oppression saw some of those same horrors being visited on people of color in this country, and they acted. They said not again, not here.”
The new video is a lighthearted attempt at spreading that message from the perspective of those ancestors—who have a lot of oddly specific supernatural threats.
“When you’re having a dinner party, my ghost will come down and say something racist,” one woman says. “But if you’re voting for Trump, you probably don’t care.”