November 2, 2008
Last night, I watched Sarah Silverman's ad for the "Great Schlep" where the idea is for Jewish grandchildren to go over to Florida and convince their grandparents to vote for Obama. It was a funny skit and Sarah Silverman is a very amusing young lady, but I really wondered whether the whole exercise was not condescending in the extreme - after all, are the people of Florida that stupid that have to rely on their grandchildren to traverse the United States to make their minds up for them.
I'm not doubting that the whole exercise is a very clever marketing ploy and granted Florida's ignoble voting record, perfectly understandable. It is also quite flattering that Sarah Silverman believes that Jewish vote is so crucial as to think of the idea in the first place. That said, it could also be seen as a pretty cynical way for the younger generation to manipulate their elders for a stated political agenda - and that's the bit that leaves a bitter taste, certainly in my mouth.
If I were to be one of those Floridian pensioners, I don't know how I would feel if my grandchildren came over to see me with the express purpose of convincing me to vote for a certain politician, albeit in an electoral race.
Surely, I'd be more interested in seeing them and finding out about their latest news and progress through life. I'd want to know what they were up to, whether they were dating anyone seriously, where they'd been for their holidays. I can't imagine wanting to discuss politics with them - in the knowledge that the main reason they were visiting was to get me to vote for Barack Obama.
In two days time, the Americans will go to the polls and decide on the man who will lead them through the next four challenging years. How many of the pensioners who are voting on Tuesday will be alive when the next elections come up? No doubt, some won't see 2012 and wouldn't it be terrible if the last time they had their grandchildren coming up for a visit would have been as a result of partaking in the Great Schlep campaign.
One last thought.
I wonder how these future grandparents will explain to their grandchildren that their motives for visiting bubbe/zeide on that very last occasion, back in 2o08, had little to do with a genuine desire to bring pleasure and naches to a doting elder.