Dave Metzger of Silver Spring is an independent voter who wishes Ohio Gov. John Kasich had received the Republican presidential nomination. As Hillary Clinton became the Democratic nominee last week, Metzger considered his choices.
“I want to hold my nose,” he said while shopping at Shalom Kosher market in the Kemp Mill Shopping Center in Silver Spring.“I don’t like either candidate, but I’ll vote for Clinton because Trump is such an unsuitable person to be president.”
In interviews around the Washington Jewish community, people spoke in stark contrast to the enthusiastic crowds at the recent Republican and Democratic conventions. They spoke with reluctance and frustration about their choices at the ballot box on Nov. 8.
“It’s kind of crazy, I think you’ve got two totally different personalities,” said Dane Kryger from behind the bakery counter at Shalom.
“The economy is not where it should be. We’ve got a lot of issues as well with police and unjust crimes. Hopefully the country turns around a little bit. Unfortunately, I just don’t see that happening with either of the candidates.”
Kryger, a Canadian who cannot vote in U.S. elections, nevertheless, has a preference. “I’ll take Hillary over Trump. That’s for sure,” he said.
In line at the Brooklyn Sandwich Company food truck in downtown Washington, customer Ethan Fox said he could sum up the election in one word.
“I’ve got a good Yiddish word: meshuganah,” Fox said. “I’m referring to the whole freakin’ cycle.”
Fox, a product manager who lives in Chevy Chase, is supporting Clinton. He noted her years of public service, but said it would be nice to have a change of scenery from the Clintons.
“I’ve always had a positive feeling for her,” he said. “But I wasn’t convinced she was the best choice this time around, to be honest. I think the party and the country would have been better off with a new face. And I feel bad for her because I don’t think it’s her fault, she’s just caught up in the whole cycle.”
Fox said he did not think Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would have been a better Democratic candidate.
“I want, frankly, an adult managing the economy and an adult foreign policy,” he said.
Jake, also in the food truck line and who did not want to use his last name because he is a federal worker, said he was a Sanders supporter but is now backing Clinton. He thinks the polarized nature of this election is its biggest problem.
“I think this election has shown some issues with the two-party system,” he said. “It’s either one or the other side and there isn’t much in the middle. The thing about our country is you don’t necessarily have more than two parties that can actually elect somebody. I feel like that can be fixed.”
Less skepticism could be found among people at Moishe House in Columbia Heights who came out last week to meet White House Associate Director of Public Engagement Chanan Weissman.
“At the end of a Jewish wedding you have the breaking of the glass, and it’s supposed to symbolize the destruction of the temple, but it’s also supposed to be a celebratory moment,” said Jason Block, a student at the University of California at Berkeley, who is interning for the summer in Washington. “On Nov. 8, I plan on stepping on the glass [for] Hillary Clinton.
Block said Clinton sparked his interest since she was the only candidate who has a platform addressing sexual assault and social justice issues around empowering women.
“She’s going to break the glass ceiling,” he said.
Block’s friend Jeremy Duchin, a student at American University, said he thinks the election is a choice between two “not-so-greats,” but that voting for Trump would be catastrophic.
“I truly feel like in this election, awful things will ensue and people’s lives will be ruined if a certain candidate is elected,” he said.
Alexandria resident Marilyn Brand said Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from immigrating to the United States is among the things that infuriates her about the Republican candidate. She praised the appearance at the Democratic National Convention of the parents of Army Capt. Humayun Khan, an American Muslim killed in battle in Iraq in 2004. In his speech, Khizr Khan, his father, asked Trump if he had read the Constitution.
“I don’t think there should be an open-door policy for everybody coming into the country and being made citizens. Yet on the other hand, you can’t kick 12 million people out of the country,” Brand said.
She noted that the immigration system already has an extensive vetting process that she knows firsthand.
Pointing to her husband, Fred, who emigrated from Israel in 1952, she said, “He had to wait two or three years before he could come here.”
Brand said she has voted for members of both parties based on their policy proposals and their character. She thinks this election will be close, and is “scared” that Trump could win.
“I don’t see how he can make fun of everybody and get away with it, but he does,” she said. “And I will take Hillary any day, and I don’t know why so many people don’t like her. But I think anyone who’s been in public service as long as she has made some enemies and stepped on a few toes. But she certainly is more qualified.”
Fairfax resident Judy Halpern has never volunteered on a presidential campaign before, but is considering working on the Clinton campaign this fall due to her strong feelings about the election, including a fear that Trump will “destroy the country” if elected.
“He’s [Trump] self-centered, and he doesn’t see the bigger picture,” Halpern said. “He doesn’t understand what this country is about. He only understands what he wants. “I think [Clinton] cares about people, but I think she knows that you have to do the job.”