LOS ANGELES, May 28, 2013 — New York Congressman Eliot Engel hails proudly from the Bronx. Manhattan gets all the attention, but the Bronx is a vibrant borough in its own right. As fellow New York Jews and products of the “other” boroughs, we could have an enjoyable discussion without getting into political ideology. Our political views are diametrically opposed, but our shared interests go beyond politics.
Our conversation was at the Democratic National Convention in 2012. We run excerpts of it now as a reminder, at a time when national unity is paramount, that there is as much that joins us as human beings and unites us as Americans as divides us along political lines. Memorial Day is that time.
Eric Golub: Who are your three political heroes?
Eliot Engel: John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
EG: With the plan to rebuild Coney Island, can your power as a Congressman be used to ensure that the Cyclone remains a permanent historical landmark?
EE: (Laughter) You know, I actually have never been on the Cyclone. However, I used to love taking the D-Train to Coney Island. You could have a whole day of fun there. I was eleven years old at the time, and those were very happy days.
EG: Now that Joseph Lieberman has been on a national ticket, can a Jewish Congressman from the Bronx become president? Is America ready for a Brooklyn or Bronx President?
EE: (Laughter) There are two answers to this, reality and fantasy. The real answer is my wife would kill me. Yet in fantasyland, and you know this being Jewish, every Jewish mother thinks her son should be president. Maybe one of those mothers will be right one day, but not one with a son who wants to keep Mrs. Engel happy.
EG: With a Jewish intermarriage rate of 52 percent, how do we keep all these Jewish Democratic delegates away from Eva Longoria?
EE: (Laughter) There have been bigger threats throughout our history. The miracle of the Jewish people is how we have thrived despite so many attempts to destroy us. We thrived and survived in 1948, which in itself is a miracle. Intermarriage is an issue, but in recent years there has been a resurgence of young Jews celebrating Judaism. This has been in the frum (ultra-Orthodox) and non-frum communities.
EG: How would you want to be remembered in one hundred years? How would you want people to remember Eliot Engel the person?
EE: I worked hard. I cared. I was a nice guy.
Congressman Engel and I do not agree politically. We would never agree on which borough is the best. (The answer is obviously Brooklyn, although if anybody could make an eloquent case for the Bronx, it would be him.) His epitaph sentiment is accurate. He does work hard. He does care. He is a very nice guy.
Engel understands politics as a means of making the world a better place. We disagree on the means, but the ends can unite us if we just take time to talk. Republicans and Democrats may want to relegate each other to minority status, but our shared desire to make our country better makes us squabbling members of one family, not enemies facing each other across battle lines.
May Eliot Engel enjoy a happy life. Any guy who likes Brooklyn gets points in my book, even if he prefers the Bronx.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.”
Eric is 100% alcohol, tobacco, drug, and liberalism free. Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS. Follow us: @wtcommunities on Twitter