The Bumpy Road Toward Political Incorporation, 1920–1984

Authored by: Stefano Luconi

The Routledge History of Italian Americans

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415835831
eBook ISBN: 9780203501856
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780203501856.ch19

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Abstract

As newcomers themselves or descendants of immigrants, Italian Americans have engaged in U.S. politics at two different but interrelated levels. On the one hand, they have registered for the vote, cast their ballots on election days, campaigned for public offices, served in legislative and executive posts, and contributed to shaping the policies of their receiving country. On the other, they have exploited their electoral clout and mobilized to lobby the U.S. government and Congress in behalf of the interests and claims of their own ancestral land. Whereas the latter activities have progressively yielded to the former, Italian Americans have increasingly assimilated within their adoptive society. Likewise, candidates of Italian ancestry have reached accommodation, as they have no longer focused on ethnic issues and relied on the votes of the members of their own immigrant minority to get elected. In their case, however, the “Mafia” stereotype, namely the prejudicial view that people of Italian descent are somehow connected to organized crime, has long curbed Italian Americans’ rise in politics.

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