Felipe Goodman (NV): ‘Immigrants Are Being Treated Like Pariahs’
Felipe Goodman (52), a Democrat from Las Vegas, NV, is a Mexican immigrant. He was an assistant rabbi in Mexico City before joining Temple Beth Sholom in 1998. Named one of America’s most inspiring rabbis by The Forward in 2013, he participated in a series of White House meetings with President Barack Obama on relationships with the Jewish community and on Israel’s security. One reason he became a U.S. citizen 12 years ago was so he could vote.
What are the top three issues that concern you most?
My top three issues are the composition of the Supreme Court, support for the State of Israel and, believe it or not, a woman’s right to choose. I have a fourth: guns. We have a duty as Jews to preserve human life, and we’re not doing it.
Why are abortion rights so important to you?
It’s clear to me that the life of the mother comes first. I want to be on the side of caution. Jewish law says that when the life of the mother is in danger, we need to terminate the pregnancy. Therefore, I do not want reproductive rights to be touched.
Do you have any make-or-break issues?
I could never vote for a candidate who doesn’t outright support the State of Israel or won’t uphold the relationship between Israel and the United States the way it is today. I also could never vote for somebody who doesn’t support reproductive rights and some sort of different approach to guns.
As an immigrant yourself, how do you feel about the current immigration situation?
I’m very upset. Immigrants are being treated like pariahs. I understand that not everybody who wants asylum can get it, and people should come here legally. But there are so many ways to solve this crisis. I’m so frustrated because when George W. Bush was in office, he tried to solve it and Democrats didn’t let him. Then Obama tried and the Republicans didn’t let him. These immigrants are like a political football.
What traits matter to you most in a presidential candidate?
I want somebody who does not demean the position of president of the United States and who can uphold the position with dignity. I want someone who can be the president of all Americans, not only the ones who think like him or her. I need a leader who children can look up to. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Republican or a Democrat.
Why do you support Pete Buttigieg?
I admire his military experience, and I think he has really interesting ideas. I would like this country to be in the center again and I see him in the center of the spectrum, even though for some people his being gay puts him completely out of the realm of reality. To me, he is the ideal candidate, but I don’t think that’s going to happen, so I go back and forth between him and Biden. I have to be realistic about who can beat Trump.
Would you vote for any Democrat?
I don’t think I could vote for Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders. They’re radicals, and I don’t like radicals on either side. I also don’t like how Sanders relates to the State of Israel, and I don’t really like Warren. I don’t know why, but I don’t trust her.
Who would you vote for if one of them is nominated?
If there’s an independent candidate, I may vote for them. I would do that for sure before I voted for Trump.