Lou Weiss (63), a Republican from Pittsburgh, PA, grew up a Reform Jew in a “McGovern liberal family” in Pittsburgh. His conservative political views took hold in a college freshman political science class. Today, he belongs to four synagogues. He was president of Congregation Or L’Simcha, the synagogue that merged in 2010 with the Tree of Life congregation. He occasionally writes op-eds for The Wall Street Journal.
We are providing the unfiltered opinions of voters interviewed for this project. Those views are based on their understanding and perception of facts and information from a range of sources. In some cases, that information may be misleading or incorrect.
Does religion affect your political views?
My Judaism informs my conservatism. And it’s true of my own family too. My whole family is liberal, but they’re conservative in how they live their lives. My dad, who just died last December, was very hardworking, very industrious, saved his money, didn’t do crazy things. I think that kind of conservatism is the way out of poverty for a lot of people.
Are there any make-or-break issues for you?
My litmus test issue is Israel. If someone is bad on Israel, meaning that they oppose what the citizens of Israel want, as expressed through their democratically elected leaders, I cannot support them. Trump is great on Israel and understands that it’s an important ally. But I cringe at the thought of voting for him.
What other issues are important to you?
Free markets: I tend to support policies that promote “free people and free markets,” which is the motto of the Wall Street Journal editorial page. Immigration: I’m in favor of doubling the size of the country through immigration. When you fly over this country, there’s a lot of empty space. If we had 700 million people instead of 330 million, I think it would be good for the country. I’m a capitalist, and more people typically create more wealth. But we need to control our borders, so I’m both pro-immigration and pro-wall. Identity politics: When you insist on seeing every issue through the lens of race, gender, class or sexual preference, it ignores that there are universal values beyond those things. To me, this worldview is an intellectual and moral dead end and the opposite of freedom.
Is there political conflict in your family?
My shins are bruised from being kicked so often under the table during family dinners. I’ve been trying unsuccessfully now for 47 years to get my family to see it my way. My parents were in favor of school busing. I was still in high school and people were boycotting our family’s business because my parents stood up in public meetings to support it. I give them so much credit for standing up for what they believed in, but busing turned out to be a disaster. All white people fled to the suburbs and it didn’t make outcomes better for black students. This is one of the reasons I’m a huge proponent of school choice.
What traits are you looking for in a candidate?
Trump is despicable. I just don’t even know where to start. I like someone who has a sense of humor and is self-deprecating. Trump doesn’t know what the word self-deprecating means. In terms of characteristics I’d like to see, Trump has none of them.
Are there any Democrats you would vote for?
My prayer is that Mike Bloomberg enters the race as a Democrat. He is rational and he can self-fund. In a minute, I’d vote for him. If Amy Klobuchar were the nominee, I would consider voting for her because she’s moderate and is also rational.
Should Trump be impeached?
No—63 million Americans view the whole Democratic effort to get Trump as an attempt to nullify their votes. Beat him at the ballot box.