It is my hope that I begin research for this honors thesis over the coming semester, so that I might be able to accomplish as much as I can efficiently next year, sure to be a hectic one, considering its my last at Temple University. So, I’ve formulated a handful of short proposals of what I might want to research. I want to develop a focus before the end of May.
I also have to choose an academic adviser for the project, though that largely depends on what I choose to research. Still, I have been blessed with a handful of bright, challenging and caring academic mentors, like Political Science Professor Dr. Robin Kolodny, Associate Dean of College Liberal Arts Dr. Joseph Mclaughlin, Filmmaker and Broadcasting and Telecommunications Professor Eugene Martin, and Honors Director Dr. Ruth Ost.
First, I have to choose an academic pursuit, though. Here they are, as follows:
- Philadelphia, one of the largest and most historic cities in the United States, hasn’t had a Republican mayor in 55 years. Arlen Spector gave James Tate a race in 1967, former-Mayor Frank Rizzo ran in the 1991 Republican primary, and Sam Katz led two particularly spirited campaigns in 1999 and 2003, but, otherwise, most elections since Bernard Samuel last nabbed the city’s chief executive office for the GOP in 1948 haven’t even been close. Is Philadelphia’s Republican Party inept, or would nearly four out of five Philadelphians register Democrat regardless of opposition? Interestingly, Samuel was the final chapter in what was an almost entirely uninterrupted succession of Republican mayors for nearly a century, when the city became coterminous with Philadelphia County in 1854. Is Philadelphia simply prone to party loyalty or is there something deeper? What happened during Bernard Samuel’s term, which was the longest continual span in city history?
- Philadelphia is the cradle of American political history. Home to the Declaration of Independence, where the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution were adopted, and once the formal, albeit temporary, capital of this country. While still one of the most populous and well-traveled American cities, there is no question that its national influence has dwindled. Are Philadelphia politics in the country’s consciousness? Did they ever? Do this city’s local politics matter outside of the 215 area code?
- With the 2007 Philadelphia Mayoral Race raging, there is an awful lot of politicking going on, men fighting to lead a city trying to rectify its bloody hands with its role as the Next Great City, as it was labeled by National Geographic in the fall of 2005. Beyond the empty promises of campaign trails, how is Philadelphia most lacking in comparison to other American metropolises, and, perhaps more importantly, how can this city’s leaders make it all happen?
- One of the most dynamic forms of the American Republic is the interplay between local, state and the federal government. Consider Philadelphia in this context. Investigate the role city politicians play in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. How do state and federal lobbyists and various interest groups perceive this city? What is Philadelphia’s role in state and federal politics?
- The media tell us not what to think, but what to think about.. what is Philadelphia media telling us to think about? What has the decline of the Philadelphia Inquirer meant to this city?
- I give horse and carriage tours in Old City. In a city like Philadelphia, tourism is huge, but how important is it. I try to put an academic finger on the value people like me – representatives of the city for tourists and travelers – and see what the capital someone like me is worth.
Photo courtesy of Motoring Fun.