Harvard Law Professor, Emeritus, Alan Dershowitz’s latest book “Electile Dysfunction: A Guide for Unaroused Voters“ (RosettaBooks, September,6) offers much-needed perspective on the 2016 presidential election – for voters of all affiliations. With his usual incisive style, Dershowitz cuts through the campaign rhetoric and analyzes the dozen most important issues that divide the two candidates.
“The idea for the book came to me when friends from both parties complained that they weren’t excited by either presidential candidate,” Dershowitz says. “While the title is whimsical, the subject matter is serious and addresses the widespread feeling of impotence among the electorate at a time when they should be passionately inspired.”
According to Dershowitz, the book clarifies how we’ve arrived at this point in the political process and settled for candidates who don’t turn on so many voters. “The critical takeaway is that this may be the most important election in modern history because of the instability in the country and around the world. The book provides guidance for those who are frustrated by the choices with which they’ve been presented.”
“We’re delighted to publish a third title by Alan Dershowitz,” said Arthur Klebanoff, CEO of RosettaBooks. “Electile Dysfunction, as his two earlier RosettaBooks, The Case Against the Iran Deal (2015), and Terror Tunnels (2014), is hard-hitting and controversial – enabling readers to draw smarter conclusions about the complex challenges we face in today’s world.”
Dwight L. Schwab, Jr (NewsBlaze.com) – Good morning Professor Dershowitz. Let’s get right to it. Your bio reads Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz. You’re described by Newsweek as “A civil liberties attorney who is distinguished by his fight for individual rights.” Your newest book, Electile Dysfuntion: A Guide for Unaroused Voters, is your third with RosettaBooks, correct?
Professor Alan Dershowitz – Yes, the last three have been eBooks which can be rushed to my readers online.
Schwab – I have read your book about this election, and it’s part serious and part satirical. The Washington Post said the election is utterly unpredictable. Hillary was up by as many as twelve points after the two conventions in August, only to lose most of the lead by Labor Day due to many days off the campaign trail due to health problems and her campaign staff who thought she could just stand aside and Trump would destroy himself. What’s your take on this?
Dershowitz – Many polls were way off and voters who were embarrassed to let their true thoughts be known. There were issues where the candidates played into their own narratives. I think Hillary Clinton was not forthcoming about her health issue and basically did not until she had to. There are too many unpredictable elements of this election which made most of the polls all wrong. We have no idea what Trump will do in the future and what Hillary did in the past. Then there is the issue of terrorism. If there were to be an attack, it would have a big impact on the election. It could change people’s votes which would be a disaster for future domestic terrorism being able to swing American elections.
Schwab – You wrote the book largely due to mixed signals from your critics and supporters about the election itself. Is that true?
Dershowitz – I am very square with Hillary Clinton. I think she’s a terrific candidate. Is she perfect? Of course she is not, I have never voted for a perfect candidate. Hillary compared to Donald Trump isn’t even a close case. Many of my friends are anti-establishment. Hillary is part of the establishment, while Trump is exciting, unpredictable and he will get some votes even after the first debate because of that persona. She overwhelmingly won by any rational standard, yet according to some polls, his numbers increased.
Schwab – There is a widespread feeling of impotence in the electorate. The passion is not there for Hillary and the Trump base will go to the polls no matter if it’s 50 below the day of the election. Not much coverage is given to the millennial voters now that Bernie is gone. Are the youngest of voters mad at Bernie calling him a sell-out to Hillary, will they vote for the independent Gary Johnson or Stein? What is your take?
Dershowitz – Anyone who votes for Stein has to be certifiable. She is the worst imaginable candidate. In terms of her views and experience she’s a disaster. Johnson is another story. He and his running mate Bill Weld were governors of their states (Massachusetts & New Mexico). It’s like voting for Ralph Nader in the state of Florida in the 2000 election which turned victory into defeat for Gore and Bush won it in the Supreme Court. I don’t want to see young people on Wednesday morning complaining because Trump won. If they vote for Johnson/Weld to appear pure, purity has no place in an election of two major candidates where one will win most certainly. You can say the lesser of two evils, but vote for Hillary or Trump and make your vote count.
Schwab – This is the most important election in recent times, wouldn’t you agree?
Dershowitz – Yes, particularly with what’s going on in Europe. In many countries we’re seeing extremism, especially in Muslim countries, but we’re seeing a surge in nationalism, particularly in Eastern Europe, in the British Labour Party, young people here who are voting for extremism on the far left and right, the old right of the Republican Party is rising. The one thing you can always count on is extremes on both sides. One thing for certain, both sides will always hate the Jews. That’s what they always have in common. One other thing; Western democracies hate liberalism, dialogue and free speech. That’s why centrist Democrats and Republicans have one thing in common with this election. They are trying to restore the center which has been so good for America.
Schwab – Do you consider Trump to be far right and hates the Jews?
Dershowitz – He’s in the center. First of all he is not ideological. Yet he has refused to remove himself from the far right wing of his party, as Hillary has done too with the far left. She is not going to cut off the far left. She didn’t change the party platform, but Sanders (Bernie) wanted change and in some ways she did and didn’t. Both candidates are too willing to accept the votes of extremists on both sides of their party. That is a mistake. We thrive at the center and not the extremes.
(Part two of the Dershowitz interview in the next column)