An Institutional Approach to Presidential Rhetoric
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In the United States, the relationship between presidential rhetoric and political institutions is complex. In one sense, presidential rhetoric is shaped and informed by the political structure outlined by the Constitution and embodied by the U.S. government. At the same time, presidential rhetoric itself shapes how our political institutions act and interact. When the president acts as the lone voice for the country, our politics operate in a particular way. In this thesis, I consider how the institution of the presidency itself both empowers and moderates presidential rhetoric. I use President Reagan as a case study to explore how the institution impacts rhetoric in a particular situation. For instance, looking at his memorable Challenger address, I liken Reagan to a pastor, a parallel that reveals the president’s unique rhetorical position. In conclusion, I contend that my institutional approach has particular advantages to other frameworks for evaluating presidential rhetoric.