Phi Alpha Theta Lecture

Catherine Hyman, Staff Writer

FMU history honor society Phi Alpha Theta invited Dr. V. Scott Kaufman to speak to members and guests about the upcoming presidential election and previous elections on Thursday, Oct. 1 in the Lee Nursing Building (LNB) Auditorium.

Kaufman, a professor of history at FMU, gave a lecture entitled “Insider/ Outsider, Old New: The 2016 Presidential Campaign in Historical Perspective.” Dr. Christopher Kennedy introduced Kaufman to the audience. Kaufman is a professor of History at FMU. He used historic examples to portray the upcoming presidential election as embodying patterns that have been repeated in the past. He also used these historic examples to point out the differences in the current presidential election.

The first issue Kaufman discussed was the large number of Washington D.C. outsiders running in the campaign. Many of the candidates, such as Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump, have never held a political office. Kaufman pointed out that although Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have held prior office, they have tried to show that they remain distinctive from the typical political insider. By using examples from history, Kaufman showed that the idea of outsiders running for president is not a new phenomenon.

Other issues Kaufman pointed out were the tendency of some candidates to take a vague stance on political issues and the ability of media to spread campaign information more easily. Thinking historically, Kaufman showed that neither of these is particularly new in the U.S. presidential election.

In his final point, Kaufman discussed what he called the “nastiness” that has been apparent in the 2016 presidential election. Candidates have made comments that are politically incorrect and socially unacceptable. Kaufman said this is not new in a presidential campaign, like the other trends he addressed.

What is new, Kaufman said, is candidates have made offensive comments and have not seemed to be hindered by them. In the past, similar statements have hurt candidates’ campaigns.

According to Kaufman, in the current presidential campaign, people who have made offensive comments are still in the forefront of the race. Kaufman called this the “Jerry Springer effect” and said that this may be rooted in the desire to be entertained and the distrust of Washington D.C.

Kaufman was chosen to give this lecture because he has been a regular participant on Ken Ard’s radio show on WFRK 95.3 in the mornings. He said that being on the show was what motivation for the lecture.

History major Troy Tanner said that this lecture linked history and contemporary issues together in a relevant way for students.

Kennedy is the faculty advisor for Phi Alpha Theta. According to Kennedy, one of the goals of Phi Alpha Theta is to get students and faculty together to think historically.

According to Kennedy, Phi Alpha Theta helps students grow as historians.

“They learn what historians do in the field,” Kennedy said. “They get to go to conferences, present papers, go through the peer review process and get hands on experience in the academic side [of history].”

Kaufman’s lecture was just one in a series of lectures that will be hosted by Phi Alpha Theta this year. In addition to their lecture series, Phi Alpha Theta participates in and sponsors community service events, such as a book sale at the Arts International festival each year. They also travel to many local historical sites and attend a renaissance festival each year.

Phi Alpha Theta membership requirements for undergraduate students include a minimum of 12 hours in history classes and at least a 3.0 GPA. Students do not have to be history majors to join Phi Alpha Theta.

Fore more information on Phi Alpha Theta, contact Kennedy at ckennedy@fmarion.edu or visit the Phi Alpha Theta website at www.phialphatheat.org