The first time I was in the vicinity of Eric Cantor was on Tuesday, December 6th, 2011 in Washington, D.C. where I was in front of the Lincoln Restaurant, located near Thomas Circle Park, with a large group of Occupy protesters. I was not as close with those in Occupy Boston, as many may have suspected, but I did maintain a presence, believed in having conversations on different sensitive topics, and was attempting to gain necessary political experience.
Certainly, Cantor and I differ on women’s reproductive healthcare, gay marriage (gay rights in general), and have a different state of origin (he’s from Virginia while I’m from Massachusetts), but we share being Jewish and ambitious people engaged in the political process.
He was close to being the first Jewish House Speaker, while also being the “highest ranking Jewish politician in American history,” which is incredibly important. Jewish representation in politics continues to have deep personal meaning, because I know that other Jews can understand the little nuances related to my cultural background, as well as an understanding of our shared history.
Frankly, though, I was sad that he had lost re-election, and because there are many people not interested in engaging honestly, I felt that I had no way to express that sadness appropriately, a very understandable sadness, which felt isolating. I do not always agree with Republicans on a lot of different things, but I do sometimes such as when Presidential candidate Ted Cruz said about Princeton University activists “trying to erase our history because it offends our ears” (relative to Reclaim Harvard Law’s motive to remove the seal), or when the Log Cabin Republicans said that the Affordable Care Act enrollment video promoted “harmful stereotypes that gay men are nothing more than sex-crazed lechers” (I was livid about latter). I think finding common ground can be found among unlikely people is not only a strong possibility, but more an encouragement.
I would like conclude this with some quotes from “Cantor Urges Tolerance On Gays, Muslims“:
“I think an even bigger issue than that, from a cultural standpoint, is the acceptance of diversity. And the acceptance of diversity of opinion, at some point we’re all here as Americans and we all have to be appreciative of other people’s views. And it’s that tolerance, I think that that tolerance is something that enables people to be passionate about their positions. And if you’re for gay marriage, this country allows you to express your views. Some states support it and allow it, and others don’t. But its OK to have that difference of opinion in that….you know, as someone who is a religious minority, I sort of grew up with having that mindset, knowing full well that I am in a very distinct way from a religious background, separate and apart from the mainstream of this country.”