Film: The Kennedys and the Gores

HA Conference 2019 - Keynote Speech

By Professor Tony Badger, published 15th December 2019

This film was taken at the HA Annual Conference 2019 in Chester and features the HA's President: Professor Tony Badger who presented Friday's keynote lecture. 

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In a country that prides itself on its egalitarianism and its democracy, it is perhaps surprising that family dynasties are so prominent in its national politics - the Kennedys, the Bushes, the Clintons.

Albert Gore Sr. was a prominent senator in the 1950s and 1960s. His son was in due course elected to the Senate as well, then to the vice-presidency, and finally was the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the presidency in 2000.

Gore Sr was elected to the Senate at the same time as John F. Kennedy, and their families were friends. Their close political friendship survived Gore wrecking JFK's chances of winning the vice-presidential party nomination in 1956. Gore and Robert F. (or 'Bobby') Kennedy were allied both on social spending programmes and the the Vietnam War. When Bobby Kennedy was assassinated, Gore hoped that Ted Kennedy would run for the presidency in 1968. At great political cost he supported Ted Kennedy's drive to oppose Nixon's southern nominations to the Supreme Court.

Gore's son and Ted Kennedy served in the Senate together and both had presidential ambitions. In the 1980s both had different visions of how the national Democrats could win. Those differences continued into the Clinton presidency and the 2000 election.

The lecture examines these friendships and tensions over fifty years to illustrate the changing nature and fortunes of the Democratic Party.

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