Historic Firsts: How Symbolic Empowerment Changes U.S. Politics by Evelyn M. Simien

Historic Firsts: How Symbolic Empowerment Changes U.S. Politics

byEvelyn M. Simien

Paperback | November 16, 2015

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The 2008 presidential election made American history. Yet before Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, there were other "historic firsts": Shirley Chisholm, who ran for president in 1972, and Jesse Jackson, who ran in 1984 and 1988. While unsuccessful, these campaigns were significant, as theyrallied American voters across various racial, ethnic, and gender groups. One can also argue that they heightened the electoral prospects of future candidates. Can "historic firsts" bring formerly politically inactive people (those who previously saw no connection between campaigns and their ownlives) into the electoral process, making it both relevant and meaningful?In Historic Firsts: How Symbolic Empowerment Changes U.S. Politics, Evelyn M. Simien makes the compelling argument that voters from various racial, ethnic, and gender groups take pride in and derive psychic benefit from such historic candidacies. They make linkages between the candidates in questionand their own understanding of representation, and these linkages act to mobilize citizens to vote and become actively involved in campaigns. Where conventional approaches to the study of American political elections tend to focus on socioeconomic factors, or to study race or gender as isolated factors, Simien's approach is intersectional, bringing together literature on both race and gender. In particular she compares the campaigns ofJackson, Chisholm, Obama and Clinton, and she draws upon archival material from campaign speeches, advertising, and newspaper articles, to voter turnout reports, exit polls, and national surveys to discover how race and gender determined the electoral context for the campaigns. In the process, shereveals the differences that exist within and between various racial, ethnic and gender groups in the American political process at the presidential level.

About The Author

Evelyn M. Simien is Associate Professor of Political Science, jointly appointed with the Institute for Africana Studies at the University of Connecticut.
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Details & Specs

Title:Historic Firsts: How Symbolic Empowerment Changes U.S. PoliticsFormat:PaperbackDimensions:176 pages, 9.21 × 6.1 × 0.2 inPublished:November 16, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199314187

ISBN - 13:9780199314188

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments1. Symbolic Empowerment: Trailblazers and Torchbearers2. Chisholm '72: Toward a Theory of Symbolic Empowerme3. Beyond Votes: Jesse Jackson's Candidacy and its Mobilizing Effect4. One of Our Own: Hillary Clinton and the Voters who Support Her with Sarah Cote Hampson5. The "New Black Voter" and Obama's Presidential Campaign with Sarah Cote Hampson6. Presidential Politics: An Ode to RemembranceNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"With its in-depth, intersectional analysis of the candidacies of Shirley Chisholm, Jesse Jackson, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton, Historic Firsts sheds new light on whether and how symbolic empowerment traverses racial, ethnic, and gender divides to mobilize multiple underrepresented andmarginalized groups." --Beth Reingold, Emory University