What makes a presidential candidate different from other politicians?
This is the question Lara M. Brown, Ph.D., set out to answer in her new book, Jockeying for the American Presidency: The Political Opportunism of Aspirants. It was, she says, a question that few people were asking when she set out to write the book. “Despite the fact that there are many, many presidential election studies, very few of them placed presidential aspirants at the center of the elections.”
Dr. Brown, an assistant professor of political science here at Villanova University, has been at work on the book since 2004. But the seeds of the idea were sown long before, when she was an undergraduate political science major at UCLA. While writing a paper on Aristotle, she came across a quotation by Heraclitus: “A man’s character is his fate.” Dr. Brown explains, “This idea struck me as few others had my freshman year. I was fascinated by the idea that who one is as a person is what one becomes, and in this sense, I began my own investigation into leaders, particularly presidents.”
Before coming to the University, Dr. Brown worked in politics and government, notably serving in President William Clinton’s administration at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C. This gave her the chance to “see the ‘big’ picture” regarding education in America. “And then, of course,” she adds, “there were fun parts about being in the administration, like viewing the Fourth of July fireworks that go off over the Mall from the South Lawn of the White House.”
On her return to academia, she says, “The position at Villanova University was a dream come true. Villanova is an extraordinary university. It cares as much about ‘hearts’ as it does about ‘minds,’ and that is what made me jump at the chance to be part of this community.” Dr. Brown also participated in a 2008 post-election discussion in Falvey.
Dr. Brown will speak about her book on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2010, at 4:00 p.m. in Falvey Memorial Library’s first floor lounge. Attendees can expect to get a sneak peek of some of the presidential hopefuls in the 2012 elections.
The event, which is part of the Scholarship@Villanova lecture series, is free and open to the public. It is approved for Augustine and Culture Seminar (ACS) co-curricular event credit.
Photograph by Mitchel Gray
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