President Donald Trump kicked off his Tuesday by continuing his quixotic attempt to drive a wedge between Jewish voters and the Democratic Party—this time by quoting Elizabeth Pipko, a former model, Trump staffer and public face of the newly created astroturf organization “Jexodus,” who appeared on Fox & Friends earlier that morning.
Just what is Jexodus, you ask? According to its barebones website, Jexodus is a cadre of “proud Jewish Millennials tired of living in bondage to leftist politics.” And, yes, comparing American Jews who vote Democratic (which is most of them) with actual, literal slaves, is extremely insane and offensive.
Currently the group has just over 1,600 followers on Twitter, and slightly more than 2,000 fans on Facebook. Hardly the sort of mass movement of motivated millennials that would warrant the time and energy of the president of the United States—until you consider that Jexodus is reportedly the brainchild of media executive, Trump advisor and surrogate, and longtime GOP hawk Jeff Balloban, who as early as 2008 was arguing that American Jewry’s growing Orthodox population—coupled with an influx of Jewish Russian, Syrian, and Iranian immigrants—could stem the tide of left-leaning Jewish voters.
But what makes this grift even more offensive to me, a Jewish American, is not just the fact that Jexodus is another lazy attempt to ostensibly capitalize on Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar’s awkwardly phrased—but entirely legitimate—critique of the Israel lobby’s power and access in Washington, but the fact that this isn’t anything new at all. Pundits have, in one way or another, been trying to insist on an impending “Jexodus” for years. And without fail, they’ve been completely, hilariously wrong each and every time.
Here, according to the Pew Research Center, are the Jewish vote totals for the presidential elections since 2000:
So, yeah, there’s been a small shift. But an “exodus”? Not so much. In fact, the news for Jexodus cheerleaders gets even worse when you look at the 2018 midterm elections, in which a CNN exit poll found that 79 percent of Jewish voters cast their ballots for Democrats—the highest number since 2000, when Joe Lieberman, who is Jewish, ran on the Democratic ticket with Al Gore.
If anything (opportunistic lip service toward anti-Semitism aside), Donald Trump himself—a man who regularly traffics in bigotry, and praised neo-Nazis as “very fine people”—is in no small part to blame for the continued Jewish reluctance to vote red.
Which is all to say that Jexodus isn’t a thing. It’s never been a thing. So let’s call it what it is: A craven play for attention and influence from a former Trump staffer and a Trump advisor that will almost certainly have zero impact on the electorate as a whole.