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Speaking with the People's Voice

How Presidents Invoke Public Opinion

Jeffrey P. Mehltretter Drury

Publication Year: 2014

The role of public opinion in American democracy has been a central concern of scholars who frequently examine how public opinion influences policy makers and how politicians, especially presidents, try to shape public opinion. But in Speaking with the People’s Voice: How Presidents Invoke Public Opinion, Jeffrey P. Mehltretter Drury asks a different question that adds an important new dimension to the study of public opinion: How do presidents rhetorically use public opinion in their speeches?

In a careful analysis supported by case studies and discrete examples, Drury develops the concept of “invoked public opinion” to study the modern presidents’ use of public opinion as a rhetorical resource. He defines the term as “the rhetorical representation of the beliefs and values of US citizens.”

Speaking with the People’s Voice considers both the strategic and democratic value of invoked public opinion by analyzing how modern presidents argumentatively deploy references to the beliefs and values of US citizens as persuasive appeals as well as acts of political representation in their nationally televised speeches.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Series: Presidential Rhetoric and Political Communication


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

This book is inspired by many conversations and is the work of many influences. As a first-time book author, I am grateful to series editor Vanessa B. Beasley. She has been a mentor in modeling what it means to be a scholar and was an invaluable resource during the revision process...

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pp. 1-20

On February 15, 2003, more than eight million people across the globe protested imminent US-led military action in Iraq. Involving more than sixty nations, the protests constituted the largest antiwar demonstration since the 1960s. In London, two million demonstrators set a city record...

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Chapter 1: The Symbolic Sovereignty of the People

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pp. 21-37

“The will of the people,” vox populi, “conventional wisdom,” doxa, “consensus”— public opinion has found expression in numerous forms with varied meanings, but has always been a fundamental tenet of democratic governance. From the ancient Greek polis through fledgling democracies in...

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Chapter 2: Driving the Bandwagon

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pp. 38-65

When citizens in the United States describe their nation as a democracy, they recognize the people as the foundation of political power. The axiom that the people are the master and the government is the servant has become a vital ingredient of US politics, supporting the importance of...

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Chapter 3: Hail (to) the People

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pp. 66-94

Both physically and symbolically the president of the United States represents the ideals of an entire nation. He speaks for and with the voice of the people, maintaining the identity and heritage of the nation through his rhetorical choices, whether depicting his constituency as residents of a...

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Chapter 4: Political Correctives

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pp. 95-124

In previous chapters the exploration of invoked public opinion in modern presidential rhetoric has focused on appeals to public opinion. Both bandwagon and identity appeals situate public opinion as a positive voice. In using them, modern presidents support a democratic assumption in...

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Chapter 5: The Presidential Balancing Act

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pp. 125-136

The marriage between presidents and public opinion seems a natural and inevitable facet of contemporary democratic politics, perpetuated by the very rhetorical practices of modern presidents. In this book I have considered this relationship by analyzing the various forms and functions...


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pp. 137-174


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pp. 175-188


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pp. 189-196

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781623491352
E-ISBN-10: 1623491355
Print-ISBN-13: 9781623490447

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Presidential Rhetoric and Political Communication
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OCLC Number: 874963144
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Speaking with the People's Voice

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Political oratory -- United States.
  • Public opinion -- United States.
  • Presidents -- United States.
  • Persuasion (Rhetoric) -- Political aspects -- United States.
  • Political leadership -- United States.
  • Communication in politics -- United States.
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