Michael Fauntroy

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The Forum: Robert Smith Talks Political Ethnic Avoidance

  Broadcast in Politics

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The politics of ethnic avoidance -- how elected officials of one ethnic group limit their policy activity that is acutely useful to that same one -- is today’s topic.

Much has been made of Barack Obama’s ascension to the presidency as a marker in American race relations. There were lurking questions among some of his conservative critics who argued that he would show favoritism to African Americans. Two generations ago, however, more than a few observers raised similar questions about another American ethnic, Senator John F. Kennedy, as he sought the presidency. Would Kennedy, as President, take orders from the Vatican?

My guest today has recently published a book that compares these two historical presidential campaigns and offers some interesting thoughts on what they say about America.

Robert C. Smith is Professor of Political Science at San Francisco State University and the author of numerous books and articles on various angles of American politics. His latest is John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama, and the Politics of Ethnic Incorporation and Avoidance.

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