Bobby and Pierre
From: 1968 in Canada
In the spring of 1968, the political campaigns of Robert Kennedy in the United States and Pierre Trudeau in Canada generated wild crowd scenes featuring passionate adoration of the candidates. Both politicians were liberals, yet their platforms, political situations, and supporters were very different. What was it that turned their campaign events into tumultuous love-ins? Both countries seemed threatened by fragmentation that year, and emotions were running high. In mass-mediated national politics, the celebrity politician offered a convenient, plausible panacea. Taking to the streets to emote support for Kennedy or Trudeau combined elements of sixties activism and mainstream mass culture into a form of participatory democracy aimed at healing the nation.
Paul Litt is Professor at Carleton University in Ottawa. He is cross-appointed between the School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies and the Department of History.