ST. BONAVENTURE, NY – The 2020 presidential election marks not just President Donald J.Trump’s re-election bid, but also the 100th anniversary of another presidential election marked by deep divides in America, a St, Bonaventure University professor argues in two papers posted by the Jandoli Institute for Presidents Day.

“The anniversary of Warren G. Harding's election and Donald J. Trump’s re-election bid share more than simply landing a century apart,” Philip G. Payne, chair of the university’s history department, wrote in America First: Make America Nostalgic Again. “In both elections, Americans asked what it means to be an American in a changing world, changes that some Americans feel left out of.”

In his other paper, Like Writing History with Lightning: The Politics of Nostalgia and New Media, Payne draws parallels between the emerging media platforms of the 1920s and today’s media landscape, noting that Harding’s victory over James Cox in 1920 was the first time that presidential election results were announced over the radio. 

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“In the following decade of the Roaring 20s, RCA became the darling of Wall Street and a symbol of progress,” Payne wrote. “Going forward, they could look to radio saturating society, but radio was one of several new forms of media shaping how people thought about politics and history.”

Payne, who has taught at St. Bonaventure since 1998, is the author of Dead Last:  The Public Memory of Warren G. Harding’s Scandalous Legacy (Ohio University Press, 2009)  and Crash!:  How the Economic Boom and Bust of the 1920s Worked (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015).

“Dr. Payne’s papers exemplify the goals we had in mind when we established the Jandoi Institute last year,” Richard A. Lee, the institute’s executive director, said. “By tapping in to the expertise of the academic community, we can spark constructive dialogue on the issues confronting our nation.”

The Jandoli Institute serves as a forum for academic research, creative ideas and discussion on the intersection between media and democracy.

Payne’s two papers were funded by grants from the Leo E. Keenan Jr. Faculty Development Endowment.

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