Rhonda Rich (54), a Democrat from West Bloomfield, MI, grew up in a culturally Jewish family in San Francisco. She “found” Judaism in college after visiting the San Jose University Hillel and attending a Shabbat dinner, a day she remembers as “one of the most important days of my life.” Since Missouri’s attempt earlier this year to ban abortion after eight weeks, women’s reproductive rights have become a crucial issue for Rich. (The ban is currently under partial court-ordered injunction.)
What issues are you most concerned about?
The economy, specifically the budget deficit, climate change, and health care—including women’s reproductive rights. I am not a proponent of Medicare-for-all. Sanders is too liberal for me, as is Elizabeth Warren. Their policies seem very much on the fringe, and their proposals cost a lot of money. They say they’re going to tax the people who are making the most money, but that’s not realistic. Sanders and Warren are both too liberal for most people, and I don’t think they can beat Trump. They’re too far left to win Michigan, where most Democrats are more conservative than in other places.
Which candidates stand out to you so far?
Pete Buttigieg and Cory Booker. Amy Klobuchar closely resembles my values and I liked what she said during the last debate, but I don’t believe that she has any chance to move up from the bottom of the Democratic field.
Does Israel affect your political views?
Absolutely. When Obama was president, I loved him so much that I could overlook the fact that he was not as pro-Israel as I would have liked. My negative views of Trump, on the other hand, have nothing to do with his views on Israel. But, do I vote exclusively on how candidates view Israel? Absolutely not. I vote based on their domestic policies and their international policies that have nothing to do with Israel.
What personal traits matter to you most when choosing a candidate?
I’m looking for someone who’s straightforward and honest. Someone who has a history of integrity, tells it like it is, doesn’t dance around issues, and who seems intelligent about the issues. I’m looking for someone who can speak intelligently and have staff around them to be able to make clear-cut statements as to why or why not they support, or don’t support, certain issues.
What behaviors make a candidate unacceptable to you?
Someone who says one thing to one group of people and says a completely different thing to another group because that’s how he or she is going to gain support. Biden has flip-flopped but in a positive way. He has such an extraordinarily long history of politics in this country. He has flip-flopped on issues, but you can’t go back to 1975 and say, well, you were in favor of XYZ issue and now you’re not; times have changed. His age puts me off though; I’m afraid that he’s not going to be all there two years from now. I would vote for him in a minute if he were younger.
Is there disagreement in your family about candidates you support?
My husband is a Republican, and we do not discuss politics at all, ever. Political views are very mixed here in Michigan, and I haven’t seen people talk about politics around any table!
Are you in favor of impeachment?
I wasn’t until this whole business with Ukraine. I respected Nancy Pelosi’s reticence. I didn’t think we had enough facts before to say that the terrible things Trump had done equaled high crimes and misdemeanors. Trump seems to not care that he may have broken the law or done something so unseemly as to ask a foreign country to investigate his political rival. That makes no sense to me. So yes, I am in favor of impeachment now.