EngageEventsTwo Dads Defending Democracy Tour: Bridging the Gap During Divisive Times
Citizenship Icon Dialogue Icon
Past Event

Two Dads Defending Democracy Tour: Bridging the Gap During Divisive Times

Headshots of two speakers against blue background with title of program

Joe Walsh, a former U.S. Representative from Illinois, and Fred Guttenberg, a businessman-turned-activist following his daughter’s murder in the 2018 Parkland school shooting, went from arguing with each other on social media and television to engaging in meaningful dialogue. The “Two Dads” forged a friendship through patience and civil discourse, demonstrating how people from opposite ends of the political spectrum can find common ground on contentious issues such as gun safety.

Through respect and understanding, Walsh and Guttenberg successfully model how to engage in dialogue with a willingness to listen and learn to find common ground. As the 2024 election approaches, their story shows a way forward for civil discourse to make the democratic principle of disagreement possible.

This event took place in person + via zoom. Watch the recording of this event here.

About the Speakers:

Fred Guttenberg began his public life after the murder of his 14 year old daughter Jaime. The day after the murder, Mr. Guttenberg attended a public vigil in Parkland during which he was asked to speak. His words shook a nation. Four months prior to this, his brother Michael passed away in October 2017 from cancer related to his service as a first responder on 9/11. Following his involvement in these two distinctly American tragedies, Guttenberg has traveled the country talking about both events, but also about perspective, perseverance, and resilience. His mission ultimately led him to write Find The Helpers and his follow up book American Carnage with Tom Gabor. His professional life previously included over a decade in management with Johnson and Johnson, followed by 15 years as an entrepreneur with 19 Dunkin Donuts.

Joe Walsh is a former Republican Congressman from Illinois elected to Congress in the TEA Party wave of 2010. Following his service in Congress, Mr. Walsh became one of the most popular conservative talk radio hosts in the country, syndicated in major markets throughout the U.S. In August of 2019 he became a candidate for President of the United States, waging a Republican primary challenge against Donald Trump. Walsh is the author of F*CK SILENCE: Calling Trump Out for the Cultish, Moronic, Authoritarian Con Man He Is, released in February 2020. He is currently the host of the podcast, “White Flag With Joe Walsh” where he has weekly conversations with other well-known people to model respectful conversations. In addition to other networks, he is seen regularly on CNN, MSNBC and News Nation for his political commentary

Guttenberg and Walsh appeared recently on MSNBC with Ali Velshi to share the story of how they came together to begin the “Two Dads Defending Democracy” tour. They discuss the importance of finding common ground and why they believe Trump’s existential threat to democracy is more significant than policy disagreements. Watch it here.

This event is cosponsored by the Gamba Family Red and Blue Exchange, an initiative of the SNF Paideia Program at the University of Pennsylvania, the Penn Political Union, and the Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy. Generous funding is provided by the Gamba Family and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

This event took place in person and via zoom at the Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics (PCPSE) Auditorium, 133 South 36th Street, Philadelphia. A recording of this event is available on our YouTube channel here.


Other Events of Interest

May 2

Capstone Event

Interested in learning more about the SNF Paideia Program? Join us for the Capstone poster session of our SNF Paideia graduating seniors.… Learn More