David Wolkinson: Prioritizing National Security

"I just can't imagine that a presidential candidate [Trump] could think so foolishly about foreign policy."
By | Apr 12, 2024
JPVP 2024
David Wolkinson smiling

This interview is part of Moment’s Jewish Political Voices Project. To learn more about the project, click here. To see our other participants, click here. To see all posts from David, click here.

Age: 43
Occupation: Real estate investor/apartment manager

Location: Florida
Party Registration: Republican
Jewish Denomination: Orthodox
2020 Vote: Donald Trump
Current 2024 Vote: Leaning toward Joe Biden
News Sources: POLITICO, The Hill, The Times of Israel, The Jerusalem Post, The Wall Street Journal

Do you feel the 2024 presidential election will proceed smoothly, or do you fear controversy over the result?

I fear controversy, because there’s a narcissistic sociopath who has created chaos over the last four years whose ego finds it easier to say the election was stolen than to deal with defeat. However, I always say that we get the politicians we deserve; ultimately that’s the truth of democracy. The people do have to do better. 

But with that said, I think that the American people deserve other choices. And for a variety of political reasons, they’re not getting them. And that’s unfortunate.

What issue is the most important to you?

The top issue for me is always national security. I think the biggest security challenge that we’ve faced the last four years was the Russian invasion of Ukraine. That’s where I have real questions about Trump. Trump’s comments have been all over the place and largely irresponsible, and they suggest that his intention is to cut off aid to Ukraine and make a deal with Russia. I can’t support a candidate who would do that. I just can’t imagine that a presidential candidate could think so foolishly about foreign policy.

What about abortion?

Abortion is not an issue of high importance to me personally. I’m against abortion. But that doesn’t mean that you should pass laws that say that abortions are illegal after six weeks. Republicans always have this hard line of no abortion rights, even for rape or incest. If that happens, Republicans will be a minority party forever because very few Americans want that. Reversing Roe v. Wade, and allowing this to be something settled in the democratic system, is a very good thing. States are the laboratories of democracy. In deciding Roe, the Supreme Court took the abortion issue away from the people. Not letting the people have a debate is what created a kind of fringe identity. What most Americans want is that abortions be safe, legal and rare, as Bill Clinton put it. Politicians will pay a heavy price in places where they take the option away from women at six weeks, when many women don’t even know they are pregnant.

Trump likes to portray himself as a “strongman,” the kind of firm leader the United States needs when confronting foreign autocrats and ticklish international situations. Is that an accurate picture of him?

I never bought the image of Trump as a strongman. But I think he actually is feared by our allies and our enemies; they do think of him as a strongman. You know, Richard Nixon used the madman theory. He wanted the Russians convinced that he was a little off, and that he would really order a first strike. And so the Russians thought of him as much more aggressive than he was. Now, Trump says Putin wouldn’t have invaded Ukraine if he’d been in the White House. My guess is he may be right, because Putin was trying to develop a relationship with Trump. And he would have known that an attack on Ukraine was unsustainable.

Do you favor Biden because of his record or because he’s “not Trump”? 

Joe Biden is who he says he is. He’s a decent man. That appeals to me. Joe Biden gets along with people, and that appeals to me too. I think presidents are supposed to be people like Joe Biden, who put the country first. My impression of Biden has only improved since October 7. 

How does your Judaism influence your political views?

The values that I’ve always taken from Judaism are about loving your fellow man, loving God, being honest, not taking what’s not yours, living the right way, and caring about everyone. Those are the values that I have always brought to any conversation in the public arena. The reason I’m a Republican is because it is the party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt—and Richard Nixon and Nelson Rockefeller. Much like the Democrats, Republicans believe there are ways to advance racial, social and economic justice. Jackie Robinson was a Republican! This was the party that was formed to abolish slavery. That was its founding principle. But if I were 22 today, I doubt I would identify as a Republican.

Are you hopeful about America’s future?

I have a deep faith in America. I can’t say I have a deep faith in the Republican Party. That wasn’t always the case—Ronald Reagan spoke about the “shining city on the hill.” The future of humanity depends on the continued success of the United States of America, the values that underlie this country. The world literally cannot prosper without America’s continuing leadership. The vacuum that would create is too horrible to even think about. Hopefully, the situation that we have today with all the chaos will result in a new generation of leadership. And hopefully, character will count again, and we will continue to be the “shining city on the hill.”

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