American Jews have built a political culture based on the principle of equal citizenship in a secular state. This durable worldview has guided their political behavior from the founding to the present day. In The Foundations of American Jewish Liberalism, Kenneth D. Wald traces the development of this culture by examining the controversies and threats that stimulated political participation by American Jews. Wald shows that the American political environment, permeated by classic liberal values, produced a Jewish community that differs politically from non-Jews who resemble Jews socially and from Jewish communities abroad. Drawing on survey data and extensive archival research, the book examines the ups and downs of Jewish attachment to liberalism and the Democratic Party and the tensions between two distinct strains of liberalism.
Offers the most comprehensive examination to date of American Jewish political behavior and how it has developed over time
Approaches Jewish political behavior from a social scientific perspective, drawing on survey data and archival research
Develops a theory of political action that is relevant to understanding other ethnic and religious groups
Kenneth D. Wald is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Political Science and the Samuel R. 'Bud' Shorstein Professor Emeritus of American Jewish Culture and Society at the University of Florida. He is the author of Religion and Politics in the United States (8th edition, 2018), The Politics of Cultural Differences (2002) Private Lives, Public Conflicts (1997) and Crosses on the Ballot (2016).
Part I. The Problem(s) of American Jewish Liberalism:
1. America is different
2. Why American Jewish politics is puzzling
3. How is America different?
Part II. Development of the American Jewish Political Culture:
4. How Jews fell in love with the American regime
5. Jewish political culture in the early national period
6. Consolidating Jewish political culture
7. Early twentieth century challenges to Jewish political culture
Part III. Jewish Liberalism and the Democratic Party in the Post-New Deal Era
8. Jewish political culture during the 'long sixties' and after
9. Resurgence of democratic partisanship in the post-new deal era
10. The persistence of the Jewish liberal tradition