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In this hour of You Are Here, we explore where communities of specific racial, ethnic, and religious identities collide with politics. We look at how these groups are represented in the political system, what issues are important to them in the upcoming election, and how local officials are responding to their interests and concerns. We dive into local scenarios where religious or cultural agendas have the potential to clash with political and executive agendas, and find out how that’s affecting voters at the polls.
Listen: Intro- Where Communities of Specific Racial, Ethnic, and Religious Identities Collide with Politics
Reporter Emma-Jean Weinstein will take us in to the local Jewish community and finds out where the vote is. Across the country, voters who identify with the GOP have either grown or held steady in every major religious group since 2008, even among stereotypically left-leaning Jewish Americans. According to a 2011 pew research center report, Jewish support for the Republican Party has grown 9 percent in the past three years. Weinstein finds out what reasons Jewish voters have for becoming more conservative and what reasons they might have to stay to the left.
Reporter Alexis Weaver focuses in on Catholics and their perspectives on birth control legislation in America. A topic that has captured the country’s attention this month is President Obama’s contraceptive mandate requiring birth control coverage for employees of religious-affiliated hospitals, schools, and outreach programs. Seven states asked a federal judge to block the measure Thursday, alleging the new rule violates the First Amendment rights of groups who object to the use of contraceptives.
Even New Hampshire, typically one of the least religious states in the nation, has become the latest front in the political battle over contraception. Amidst the national controversy, the state’s republican leaders want to change a 12 year old state law that does the same thing as the Obama Administration’s new mandate.
Although the media has focused largely on objection to the law, Weaver takes a closer look at the broad spectrum of opinions on the issue within the local catholic community and finds out what Catholics have to say about all the political ruckus.
Reporter Robert Cromertie hones in on Mormonism and the national conversation. A spotlight began to shine on the religion last year when Latter Day Saints members Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman put their names in the running for the republican presidential nomination. Huntsman has since dropped out of the race but Mitt Romney continues to be one the GOP’s front runners in the primaries. In 2003 Romney overcame religious barriers in Massachusetts when he took the governor’s seat, but now has to do the same on a national level. Romney’s presidential rivals have mostly avoided going after him on religion,but the same cannot be said for pundits and voters, both republican and democrat. Why do some Americans see a Mormon politician as something to fear? Cromertie finds out why some voters are skeptical of unfamiliar religions like Mormonism in politics. He talks to Mormons in Boston to expose misunderstandings and misconceptions voters may have about the Mormon Church and its members.
Reporter Erin Farley takes us in to the black community and finds out what issues local black voters are concerned with. The black voter base was energized in the 2008 presidential election, making up 12 point 1 percent of the total vote. A whopping 95 percent of that demographic cast their ballot for President Obama according to the pew research center. Now four years later, The President is working to get the same high voter turnout from the black community again. Although almost 65 percent of eligible black voters were registered in 2008, that number fell over twenty percent by 2010. Farley explores what policies are a source of frustration for local black neighborhoods. She talks to local black politicians about what they’re doing to keep morale high. She also finds out if it’s possible to keep hope and the vote alive, even in these hard economic times.
Reporter Joy Powers will take us on an investigative journey into Boston Chinatown. History, tradition, food, and community make for a rich mix of one of Boston oldest neighborhoods. Yet the ever-changing area can often be forgotten when it comes to voting and is afflicted by serious issues. Affordable housing is almost nowhere to be seen in the Boston neighborhood, and many residents also live in unsafe and unsanitary conditions. A wealthy Southborough couple are facing legal action in Boston after the city closed an appalling Chinatown apartment building they were renting to working-class residents. The building was in such terrible condition that the city recently condemned it. Powers explores Chinatown growing housing crisis and finds out if local politicals and officials are doing anything to address the problem.
Melissa Rogers is from the Brookings Institution, a Public Policy Research Organization in Washington D.C. Rogers is an expert on religion and public life. She talks about the role religion is playing in the presidential race. Rick Santorum is Mitt Romney’s latest front-runner opponent in the race for the presidential nomination. The two are virtually tied according to the latest polls and are fighting for every vote they can get. Both candidates present themselves as champions of religious issues in politics, and they criticize President Obama for his more liberal policies. Rogers explains what religious
issues are at the center of the presidential race and what to expect from debates about those topics in the future.