Date of Award

1980

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Speech Communication

Abstract

The late 1960's and early 1970's witnessed a political renaissance of conservatism in America and a resurgent interest in the conservative Senator from Arizona, Barry Morris Goldwater. This dissertation attempts to explain how the Arizona made rhetorical choices in light of his political ideology. The investigation focuses on the question of whether Goldwater's conservatism or his view of himself limited his rhetorical flexibility and/or the ultimate acceptance or rejection of his messages. To facilitate this task, a comparison was made of how Goldwater approached two diverse audience types: (1) partisans and (2) neutral and hostile groups. Barry Goldwater's rhetoric displayed the characteristics of the authoritarian personality. His method of information processing reflected the tendencies of isolating information, filtering incoming data through accepted authority figures, and a reluctance to process new and scientific information. The Senator also exhibited the characteristics of this personality type through the drawing of specific in-out group distinctions and a view of the world as a hostile and threatening place. Barry Goldwater coached his arguments in terms of fundamental values and principles. To be free and to enjoy the individual liberties inherent in the democratic form of government demanded that man be strong, honor his commitments, and adhere to a system of societal laws and order. These were the fundamental premises on which Barry Goldwater's positions were based. Between 1969 and 1974 the Senator assumed the mantle of a statesman-preacher. Assured that the public was ready to receive 'the truth' as represented by the Senator through the guidelines afforded to him by the conservative ideology, Goldwater proceeded with his mission to dispense these facts to the masses. The claims, evidence, analogies, and reasoning, as well as the argumentative and persuasive strategies the Senator used, support the feeing held by the Arizonan that his mission was to impart the gospel of conservatism to the American public in the hope that they would use its guidelines as a cornerstone for action. Established as the spokesman of conservative audiences and convinced of the correctness of his position, the Senator saw his rhetorical purpose with these individuals as one of mobilizing strength for the cause they shared. Convinced also that the people listening to him would accept his position, the Senator capitalized on common premises and the means by which these individuals assimilated information rather than on offering formally valid arguments. Viewed as an authority figure for these groups, he based his arguments on premises they espoused, and constructed his arguments so that the listeners could easily accept them without causing dissonance with the other beliefs they held. When Barry Goldwater spoke to neutral and hostile audiences, he was dealing with a segment of society that did not share his view of reality. The Senator did adapt to his audiences when he argued for change and when he used broad-based American values rather than conservative premises. However, primarily Goldwater based his rhetoric to neutral and hostile audiences on the belief he was now an accepted leader and an authority figure in the political sphere. Essentially the topics on which the Senator spoke and his stand on those issues were not appreciably different from those espoused in 1964. Goldwater's failure to present formally valid units of proof hampered his effectiveness with non-conservative audiences. These groups neither understood nor accepted the reasoning processes the Senator advanced. Operating from a different frame of reference, the information provided by the Senator failed to penetrate their belief-attitude structure.

Pages

256

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