Checkers: President of the United States and Richard Nixon

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IP 611 Sample Proposal

General Topic: Richard Nixon’s “Checkers” Speech (1952)

Why: It is the first great demonstration in America of the use and power of television to shape politics. As with Nixon himself, the speech was brilliant, bare knuckles and mawkish, all at once. By going over the heads of the press in directly appealling to the American people, this speech saved Nixon’s political career, delivered a hard (and some would say low) blow back on his political opponents (especially Dwight Eisenhower, the Republican nominee for the presidency, whom Nixon was running with in 1952), and seriously embarrassed his wife.

Possible subtopics:
• Richard Nixon’s early political career
• Nixon’s relationship with Eisenhower
• American political parties
• Presidential elections and campaigning
• Campaign finance
• American media
• Television and American society
• Public response to the speech
• Effects of the crisis on Richard and Pat Nixon
• Canines

Research Question: What effects did the “Checkers” speech have on Richard Nixon’s career and on American presidential campaigning and politics in general?

Working Thesis Statement: Richard Nixon’s desperate, hastily organized “Checkers” speech not only saved his political career—while souring the relationship between himself and Dwight Eisenhower—it fundamentally altered the nature of political campaigning in the United States by its enormously successful, direct appeal to the American people through the new medium of television. (Yeah, I don’t recommend your thesis statement be this long; but this one reflects all the main points I would want to argue in a paper on this topic. I would probably shorten it down in the later stages of the writing process.).

Disciplines: (I have considered six here; you only need to factor three into your paper.)

Anthropology: Anthropology studies culture (I think). Although this topic involves a bunch of white men, there were differences...
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