Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

I am always grateful for the kind assistance and generous knowledge of archivists. This book would not exist without them. Sarah L. Malcolm drew my attention to the existence of the clergy letters, and it was her affection for them that led me back to the collection, which is one of the best data sets in the world. I am also grateful to Bob Clark, whose generosity, good humor, and kindness while he was at the library honored the Roosevelts and the library itself, and made it the perfect place to...

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Author’s Note

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pp. xi-xii

A note about the clergy letters: The letters are archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York, collected as PPF 21. There are thirty-four boxes of letters, filed by state. They are cited throughout the book only by author, city and state, and date (when this information is all available, which is not always the case), because they may be shifted from one box or folder to another as archival needs dictate. I have reproduced the spelling and syntax of...

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Sample Letter to the Clergy

President Franklin D. Roosevelt

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pp. xiii-xiv

As a clergyman you come into daily contact not only with your own parishioners but with people generally in your community. I am sure you have a sound understanding and knowledge of their problems.

The grave responsibilities of my offi ce require that I have the service of unbiased and unselfi sh men throughout the nation. I am sure that no group is better qualified to advise and assist me than are the Churchmen.

I am very anxious that the new Social Security Legislation, providing for old age pensions, shall be carried out in keeping with the high...

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Introduction

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pp. xv-xliv

American politics are generally quite stable—except when they are not. Political change in the United States, whether understood as marked by a critical election, a change in regime, or cultural changes in our shared “structures of feeling,” brings with it corresponding changes in political coalitions that form around different sets of issue cleavages and initiate new kinds of political organization.1 These changes also require new ways of understanding and articulating politics and our national identity and are structured by different sets of what I call...

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Chapter 1. By Benefit of Clergy: Authoritative Political Vocabularies

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pp. 1-28

Scholars associate realignments with single elections, but realignments are better understood as processes rather than as events.1 Of the many things that characterize realignments as processes, one of the clearest is that that by unsettling the previously stable system of interparty conflict, they cause a crisis in political authority. Political institutions, operations, and discourses all shift, resettling only when a new set of political vocabularies has coalesced and is understood as both capturing shared political reality and providing a guide to collective action...

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Chapter 2. Witnessing Politics: The Depictive Element of Political Vocabularies

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pp. 29-62

As a result of the crisis of political authority caused by the onset of the Great Depression, Democrats in the 1930s were beginning to prefer a political imaginary in which political authority was centered in the federal government and in the person of the president. Republicans, on the other hand, resisted both presidential and federal power. These different views of legitimate political authority were located in different understandings of the political world—different political imaginaries, which were coming to be ordered by different political...

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Chapter 3. Revelations: Naturalizing Hierarchies in Political Vocabularies

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pp. 63-96

Institutional regime change also alters other elements of the political world. These alterations are reflected in, justified through, and enacted in rhetoric. The opposing sets of these reflections, justifications, and enactments are what I am calling political vocabularies. Each set of political vocabularies includes different views of the political world. Those different views entail opposing understandings of the best location of political authority. The nature and extent of political authority is explained and justified through differing depictions of the political world...

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Chapter 4. The American Eden: Mythic Elements of Political Vocabularies

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pp. 97-132

Every political epoch is characterized by administrative arrangements that are created and maintained to solve particular problems. Those arrangements are made possible because one political imaginary and its way of organizing the world dominates the others; every era has competing views of the political world, the locus of its authority, the nature of its citizens, and their relationships to one another. Each imaginary justifies itself through different understandings of the nation’s history and sense of purpose. These different imaginaries evolve out of...

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Chapter 5. Making a City on a Hill: Political Vocabularies and National Policy

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pp. 133-166

At any given moment in time, citizens inhabit both an overarching national political imaginary and a smaller, more partisan one. That is, we agree on certain abstract values and the myths that support them, but disagree—sometimes substantially—on how those values ought to be understood and translated into national policy. Policy is integral to political imaginaries because it is the material enactment of our values and beliefs. Political imaginaries are rhetorically structured by political vocabularies, which delineate the role of authority, describe and...

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Conclusion

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pp. 167-184

Historically, American politics is characterized by a relatively stable system of partisan conflict involving two major parties. Most of the time, most of those involved in politics find themselves comfortable with one or another of the partisan imaginaries that offer specific iterations of the more widely shared national imaginary. From time to time, that structured and stable system falls apart, and a new system develops. I examined one such moment of change to better understand the...

Notes

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pp. 185-226

Bibliography

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pp. 227-244

Index

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pp. 245-253