Political analyst Mark Smith offers the most original and compelling explanation yet of why America has swung to the right in recent decades. How did the GOP transform itself from a party outgunned and outmaneuvered into one that defines the nation's most important policy choices?
Conventional wisdom attributes the Republican resurgence to a political bait and switch--the notion that conservatives win elections on social issues like abortion and religious expression, but once in office implement far-reaching policies on the economic issues downplayed during campaigns. Smith illuminates instead the eye-opening reality that economic matters have become more central, not less, to campaigns and the public agenda. He analyzes a half century of speeches, campaign advertisements, party platforms, and intellectual writings, systematically showing how Republican politicians and conservative intellectuals increasingly gave economic justifications for policies they once defended through appeals to freedom. He explains how Democrats similarly conceived economic justifications for their own policies, but unlike Republicans they changed positions on issues rather than simply offering new arguments and thus helped push the national discourse inexorably to the right.
The Right Talk brings clarity, reason, and hard-nosed evidence to a contentious subject. Certain to enrich the debate about the conservative ascendancy in America, this book will provoke discussions and reactions for years to come.
Princeton University Press; July 2011
- ISBN 9781400830718
- Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure EPUB format
- Title: The Right Talk
- Author: Mark A. Smith
Imprint: Princeton University Press
In The Press
"The Right Talk explains how conservatives reshaped American politics by seizing the political advantage on economic growth and security. The book reveals that the conservative movement reframed rather than changed its traditional policy goals, emphasizing lower taxes and smaller government as the path to prosperity rather than as a guarantor of freedom. In the wake of growing economic insecurity since 1970, through organization and skilled rhetoric, conservative Republicans successfully cast Democrats as the dreary party of 'fiscal responsibility.' This is a fascinating, complex, clearly written study that creatively interlaces data and penetrating analytical insights to show the continued importance of economics to voters. The Right Talk marks a significant advance in our understanding of American political communication and party politics."—Robert M. Entman, George Washington University
About The Author
Mark A. Smith is Associate Professor of Political Science and Adjunct Professor of Communication at the University of Washington. He is the author of American Business and Political Power: Public Opinion, Elections, and Democracy.