To Form a More Perfect Union: Bill Clinton and the Art of Deliberation

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This essay examines former president Bill Clinton's speech to the 2004 Democratic National Convention. It argues that Clinton crafted a collective agency for his audience. He did so through his emphasis on the choices offered to the audience; the symbolic charge of this speech, in turn, rests in Clinton's ability to weave those choices into a coherent model of deliberation, one presented and enacted by the speaker. His address constitutes the people as the key actor in U.S. history, evaluating the nominees in light of communal wisdom. Such strategies, I argue, offer one path toward a more vibrant political culture.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)657-678
JournalRhetoric and Public Affairs
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2005


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