Partisan Loyalties: Jews, Blacks, and the 2012 Election – A Panel Discussion

October 7, 2012
Partisan Loyalties panel poster

Mona CharenSyndicated Columnist and Political AnalystReverend Eugene F. RiversPastor of the Azusa Christian Community in Dorchester, Massachusetts; John J. DiIulio, Jr.Frederic Fox Leadership Professor of Politics, Religion, and Civil Society at University of Pennsylvania

Moderated by Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program at Princeton University

At least since the New Deal, Jews and African Americans have identified predominantly with the Democratic Party, and have been key constituencies in the Party's base. In 2008, both constituencies voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama. As President, however, Obama has embraced policies that have alienated some within each constituency. Important voices within the Jewish community have severely criticized the President for what they perceive to be an unfriendly stance toward Israel. Some within the African American community have been no less critical of his announcement of support for redefining marriage to include same-sex partnerships. With November 6th looming, will dissatisfaction with the President's policies cause a diminution of support among Jewish voters or an erosion of enthusiasm among African American voters? Our panel, consisting of a leading Jewish conservative commentator and an influential African American pastor and public intellectual, will offer thoughts on this question.

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist and political analyst living in the Washington, D.C. area. She began her career at National Review magazine where she served as editorial assistant. On her first tax return at the age of 22, Ms. Charen listed her occupation as “pundit,” explaining later, “You have to think big”. In 1984, she joined the White House staff, serving first as Nancy Reagan’s speechwriter and later as Associate Director of the Office of Public Liaison. In the latter post, she lectured widely on the Administration’s Central America policy. Later in her White House career, she worked in the Public Affairs office helping to craft the President’s communications strategy. In 1986, she left the White House to join the presidential campaign of then-Congressman Jack Kemp as a speechwriter. Ms. Charen launched her syndicated column in 1987 and it has become one of the most widely read columns in the industry. It is featured in more than 150 newspapers and websites. She spent 6 years as a regular commentator on CNN’s Capital Gang and Capital Gang Sunday, and has served as a judge of the Pulitzer Prizes. She has served as a fellow at the Hudson Institute and the Jewish Policy Center and is the author of two bestsellers: Useful Idiots: How Liberals Got it Wrong in the Cold War and Still Blame America First (2003); and Do-Gooders: How Liberals Harm Those They Claim to Help – and the Rest of Us (2005). In 2010, she received the Eric Breindel Award for Excellence in Opinion Journalism. She is a frequent guest on television and radio public affairs programs. She received her undergraduate degree at Barnard College, Columbia University, with honors. She also holds a degree in law from George Washington University.

John J. DiIulio, Jr. is the Frederic Fox Leadership Professor of Politics, Religion, and Civil Society at the University of Pennsylvania. He directs Penn’s Fox Leadership Program for undergraduates, and also its Religion Research Program. After teaching at Harvard, he spent thirteen years at Princeton University as a professor of politics and public policy. He has been a research center director at the Brookings Institution and the Manhattan Institute. He has chaired several government reform commissions and served on the boards of numerous national and local nonprofit organizations. In the run-up to the 2000 presidential election, he advised both Vice President Al Gore and Governor George W. Bush. During his academic leave in 2001-2002, he served as first director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Over the last quarter-century, he has won several major academic and teaching awards, and chaired his academic association’s standing committee on professional ethics. Outside academic life, he has developed programs to mentor the children of prisoners, provide literacy training in low-income communities, reduce homicides in high-crime police districts, and support inner-city Catholic schools that serve low-income children. As chronicled in a March 2007 Time magazine article, he is deeply involved in ongoing human, financial, and physical recovery initiatives in post-Katrina New Orleans. He is the author, co-author, or editor of over a dozen books and several hundred articles. His most recent publications include Godly Republic: A Centrist Blueprint for America’s Faith-Based Future (University of California Press, 2007), and American Government: Institutions and Polices (with James Q. Wilson; Wadworth-Cengage, 2010, 12th edition). He was chief consultant to “God and the Inner-City,” a documentary that appeared on Public Television Stations. He majored in Economics at Penn and received his Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University.

Reverend Eugene F. Rivers is Pastor of the Azusa Christian Community, a Pentecostal church whose pastor is ordained within the Church of God in Christ, located in the Four Corners section of Dorchester, Massachusetts. He has worked on community development and various aspects of Christian activism for nearly thirty years, especially on behalf of the black poor. As President of the National Ten Point Leadership Foundation he has worked to build new grassroots leadership in forty of the worst inner city neighborhoods in inner city America. He serves on the board of The Ella J. Baker House, which provides street intervention, education, and mentoring for hundreds of youths in Dorchester and elsewhere in Boston. He has appeared on CNN’s Hardball, NBC’s Meet the Press, PBS’s The Charlie Rose Show, BET’s Lead Story, and National Public Radio, among other programs. He has been featured in Newsweek, The New Yorker, The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe, as well as periodicals such as the Boston Review, Sojourners, Christianity Today and Books and Culture. He has lectured at numerous universities, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Calvin College. He has authored or co-authored numerous essays, including On the Responsibility of Intellectuals in an Age of Crack, Beyond the Nationalism of Fools: A Manifesto for a New Black Movement, Black Churches and the Challenge of U.S. Foreign and Development Policy (2001), An Open Letter to the U.S. Black Religious, Intellectual, and Political Leadership Regarding AIDS and the Sexual Holocaust in Africa (1999), and A Pastoral Letter to President George W. Bush on Bridging our Racial Divide (2001). He is now General Secretary of the PanAfrican Charismatic Evangelical Congress, formed to organize churches in the U.S. to assist their counterparts in Africa in dealing with the AIDS in Africa pandemic, as well as advocating for changes in foreign and development policies of the U.S. vis-à-vis Africa. He spoke at the 1998 meeting of the World Council of Churches to urge them to act in the face of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa. He was educated at Harvard University.


Partisan Loyalties: Jews, Blacks, and the 2012 Election – A Panel Discussion


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