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The Right Talk:
How Conservatives Transformed the Great Society into the Economic Society
Mark A. Smith

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"The Right Talk will appeal to readers interested in rhetoric and framing, political sociology, modern conservatism, culture wars, and public policy. Its many strengths are evident: a timely topic, strong and sober writing, accessible presentation of survey data and relevant literatures, original content analyses, and a consistent, well-structured argument that challenges conventional thinking."--Amy E. Ansell, American Journal of Sociology


"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

"Mark Smith has taken up William Riker's intriguing but ignored challenge to understand political change through rhetorical analysis. The result is a fine book that should appeal to readers of all political persuasions. He shows that Republicans, more than Democrats, better adapted their appeals to changed economic circumstances, thereby attaining political dominance. That success, however, came at a price: economic growth, not liberty, became the core of Republican appeals to the electorate. Democrats will find in these pages evidence to understand their difficulties and, perhaps, to inform their revival. For everyone, Smith offers a remarkably dispassionate and engrossing guide to the politics we have experienced over two generations."--John Samples, Cato Institute

"This book takes the study of American politics out of its self-enforced rationalist ghetto and makes connections with other parts of political science and even political sociology. It does so by taking on the account of the chattering classes that if it weren't for God, guns, and gays, the GOP wouldn't stand a chance. Smith shows this to be an unsustainable argument."--Mark Blyth, Johns Hopkins University

"Mark Smith offers a new account of why Democrats are having such trouble in American elections. Republicans are winning not despite the economy but largely because of the economy, or at least because of how they frame their rhetoric and arguments around the economy. Smith makes this point and supports it with a careful assessment of the evidence. This book will provoke important discussions--and will be indispensable for future scholars."--Andrew Rich, author of Think Tanks, Public Policy, and the Politics of Expertise

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File created: 4/21/2017

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