The US Elections

3rd September 2012

RAI Matters

Dear RAI colleagues and friends,

Writing to you on Labor Day in a presidential election year is to write at a point of change in the American electoral calendar. With Governor Romney’s nomination as the Republican candidate for the Presidency confirmed in the past week, and President Obama’s nomination as the Democratic candidate on the point of confirmation, the election campaigns for the Presidency, Congress, Governorships, and state legislatures now move into high gear. For the next two months, the prose in which the hard choices of government are considered and contested gives way to the poetry of possibility and imagination characteristic of campaigning.

We at the RAI will play a full part in fostering understanding both of the poetry and the prose not just in the presidential campaign, upon which media outside the US focus their attention, but in the hundreds of other campaigns for congressional and state offices. Professor George Edwards, the incoming John G. Winant Professor of American Government, joins us from Texas A&M University for the next academic year and will be key to fostering that understanding among Oxford students and public audiences at the Institute’s many events to cover the pageantry and theatre of American electoral politics.

The noise and excitement of the forthcoming elections will be fully reflected in the Institute’s new blog, a collaboration with the Department of Politics & IR at Oxford and the Department of Politics & International Studies at Cambridge. The blog, Elections 2012, brings together scholars from a range of different fields – including political science, history, law and literature – to provide richly-informed comment and analysis of the US presidential, congressional, state, and local elections. The opening blogs by Blake Ewing, whom we thank for having done so much to get this venture off the ground, and Jay Sexton are on the website now. Look out for additions to their work over the coming weeks.

Much else will be taking place here in the term ahead. On the first two days of October, we have a conference at the RAI held jointly with the Reuters Institute in Oxford, and the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy at Duke University: Transparency and Accountability in Government and Media; and on 12th and 13th October, a two-day symposium on Alain Locke, the first African-American Rhodes Scholar, entitled Alain Locke in the 21st Century.

On 18th October, the Institute hosts The Triumph of the Humanities, a speaking event with the journalist, bestselling author, and one of the world’s leading technology writers, Michael S. Malone. Countering the widespread notion that the humanities are facing a crisis, he will draw upon his experience in Silicon Valley, where storytelling has become a key competitive factor, to argue that the humanities are about to enter a golden age. On 2nd November, a special seminar entitled A Great Deal of Ruin in a Nation will see two distinguished friends of the RAI, Professors Barry Supple, FBA, and Avner Offer, FBA, address the topic of American economic development.

We warmly invite friends and supporters of the RAI to attend these events. Further details about these and many other events to be held at the RAI in Michaelmas Term will appear shortly in the Institute’s termcard, available online at and via email.

With my best wishes

Nigel Bowles

Dr Nigel Bowles

Director, Rothermere American Institute

1a South Parks Road

University of Oxford

Oxford, OX1 3UB

+44 (0)1865 282 731 |

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