Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Speech Communication

Document Type



This study examines the rhetorical choices made in public addresses by members of the contemporary conservative movement in the United States during the 1990s. The contemporary conservative movement in this instance is defined as a post World War II phenomenon. Specifically, it is argued that the popular notion of a unified conservative ascendence in America is but an illusion. Rather, two distinct tribes of conservatives, the economic and the traditional conservative, participate in a rhetorical homology that serves to hide significant ontological differences beneath the dialectical God terms freedom and order. Additionally, the charismatic nature of the term freedom authorizes allegiance to several abstract policy positions for differing reasons. It is only when the abstract is offered as concrete policy proposal that each wing of the movement is confronted with the gap between their core beliefs and those held by their ally. Because of the transcendence achieved in their discourse, conservatives are able to continually win election while experiencing policy defeat. Several implications for the future of conservatism in particular and political movements in general are asserted in the conclusion.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Andrew A. King