Robert F. Kennedy: The Senate Years

Dooley, Brian (1993). Robert F. Kennedy: The Senate Years. MPhil thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0001017c

Abstract

This study traces Kennedy's political development from his
election to the Senate in 1964 to his death in 1968.

During that time, he transformed from a hesitant and
orthodox liberal to spearhead a new radicalism and develop
an alternative coalition for the Democratic Party. In the
domestic arena, he proposed an alternative approach for urban renewal, and became remarkably popular with black voters (even more popular than has previously been accepted). This study attempts to fathom the full extent of this relationship and how powerful it could have become.

Kennedy was also among the first politicians of his
generation to use the political muscle of the youth groups
which were springing up in the mid-'60s, and the alternative labour organisations (most notably in California) which found themselves excluded from the old union power structures.

The study also charts his rise in the anti-Vietnam war
movement, and questions his reputation as a hard-line anti­
communist which emerged during the Kennedy administration.

It examines his presidential campaign in the context of
his alternative liberal coalition, and an analysis of his
primary results suggests that the accepted wisdom of a Kennedy poverty coalition (made up of low-income black and white voters) is largely mythological.

Finally, the study offers some tentative conclusions
about the real nature of Kennedy's contribution to modern liberalism, and a brief historiography.

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