Spring 2009 Newsletter Articles
2008 Programs: A Year In Review
'08 Inspired a year of world-class programming
Any election year is exciting and enlivening for the Center for Politics, but 2008 and its historic presidential race was especially so, casting into high relief the Center’s mission to promote the value of politics and make civic engagement relevant to all citizens. Program topics ranged from various analyses of presidential primaries and the election process to Constitutional reform to race and gender and the role of religion in politics.
Senator Hillary Clinton, a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, visited the Introduction to American Politics class of the Center’s director Larry Sabato on February 11th to speak about the realities of politics and campaigning.
On April 16th the Center hosted a panel on “The Presidency Reconsidered: Should We Change How We Nominate and Elect Our Chief Executives?” in Charlottesville. This lively discussion, moderated by Sabato, featured former New Hampshire governor and chief of staff to President George H.W. Bush John Sununu; former Connecticut governor and U.S. Senator Lowell Weicker, Jr.; and former Virginia governor and Richmond mayor L. Douglas Wilder. The panelists addressed proposals set forth in Sabato’s recent book, A More Perfect Constitution, to a packed house, providing the audience with practical insight into the political process.
Listen to Podcast
The Center’s 2008 Symposium Series, entitled Not Taboo at Our Table, looked at the dynamics of race, religion, and gender in American politics. Events scheduled throughout the year offered a forum for civil discussion of these often contentious issues. In April, student leaders, professors and Center staff joined together for an Academical Dinner, honoring Thomas Jefferson’s vision of an academic community devoted to interactive learning, to discuss topics usually considered off-limits for polite dinner conversation. A panel in September, led by Luis Lugo, Director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, examined the current state of religion and politics in America. The series concluded in October with an enlightening presentation by national political cartoonist Daryl Cagle on the creative and journalistic process of the medium.
Participants in the Virginia Political History Project spent June 6th & 7th at Montesano, the new home of the Center for Politics, to celebrate Ten Years of Good Politics, the conference theme in honor of the 10th anniversary of the Center’s founding. Martha Randolph Carr and Shannon Lanier, descendents of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, Virginia’s former 5th District Congressman Virgil Goode, Jr., Chickahominy tribe Chief Stephen Adkins, former Virginia Delegates Paul Harris, Sr. and W. Ferguson Reid, and former state Senator Eva Scott were featured speakers. Carr and Lanier generated considerable attention as they discussed politics, race, and family, and the “Virginia Firsts” panel highlighted the accomplishments of elected officials who were the first to break through gender or color barriers in Virginia politics.
On November 21st, in the wake of one of the most exciting presidential elections in history, the Center for Politics and CQ Politics brought together an all-star lineup of elected officials, political analysts, journalists, strategists, and academics for the 10th annual American Democracy Conference. Held at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville for the first time, and later broadcast nationally on C-SPAN, the conference hosted nearly 500 attendees who enjoyed up-to-the minute analysis of the election that occured just weeks before.
Former Virginia governor Mark Warner delivered his first public address as the Senator-elect for Virginia as the lunchtime keynote speaker, and three highly energetic panels discussed the primaries and caucuses, the general election, and what to expect from President Obama’s administration. Included among the panelists were veteran journalist Carl Cannon, Congressman Artur Davis (D-AL), former Congressman Tom Davis (R-VA), former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, former Democratic National Committee chair and current Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, Democratic strategist Kiki McLean, USA Today political editor Susan Page, and Republican strategist Ed Rollins. During the general election panel, moderated by Larry Sabato, Representative Artur Davis, in speaking about race and politics, noted that, "If Obama governs from the center, and governs well, it will dissolve those prejudices, and that may be the biggest payoff of an Obama presidency."
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