Pivotal Proxies: An Examination of the Presidential Proxies of the FDR, JFK and BOH Adminstrations

After a dynamic conversation with a professor, I felt compelled to examine the idea of presidential surrogates or proxies (for the purposes of this research I use the term proxies).  It is clear that presidents use proxies to further their administration’s agenda, goals and to drum-up support.  These proxies hold elected positions, are members of the administration, and have even been First Ladies.  In this research I contend that the duties of some proxies align more with the president’s personal agenda than his public one.

My research question is: Do presidents use proxies to set and/or carry out administration policy; if so what accounts for presidential proxies carrying out the personal agenda of presidents to impact the policies that directly affect African Americans?  I will look specifically at the administrations of Franklin Roosevelt (FDR), John Kennedy (JFK), and give special attention to Barack Obama (BHO) all on the subject matter of their support of policies that affect African Americans generally.

After a cursory examination of literature, I am led to believe that FDR’s key proxies for African Americans were his wife Eleanor Roosevelt and his Interior Secretary Harold Ickes; JFK’s were his Attorney General Robert Kennedy and his Vice President Lyndon Johnson; and BHO’s are his wife Michelle Obama and his Attorney General Eric Holder.  Indeed examining specific examples of the policies that these proxies either support(ed), press(ed) the president for, or put in place themselves is important to this research and will be adequately assessed.


About mlhawkins

Cornell University- Cornell Institute of Public Affairs Spring 2012 M.P.A. Presidential Proxies
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