Description: The Rhetoric of the American Political Party Conventions, 1948–2016
I’ve been watching the national political conventions, intensely, since I was fourteen. (I even remember a bit of the 1960 conventions when I was ten.) Yes, individual moments drew my attention more than others. The roll call of states was always exciting, although increasingly meaningless as the identity of the winner was known long before the gathering. Individual speeches were exciting....
Theodore F. Sheckels
Lexington Books
1,247
Description: The Rhetoric of the American Political Party Conventions, 1948–2016
The political parties’ quadrennial conventions are a huge topic, one a single book cannot “cover” if that word is assumed to imply thoroughness. Selectivity is required. This study’s focus on rhetoric provides an initial limiting principle: matters such as how the major television networks decide who gets which overhead booth are not really relevant in a rhetorical...
Theodore F. Sheckels
Lexington Books
9,440
Description: The Rhetoric of the American Political Party Conventions, 1948–2016
In retrospect, we think of FDR as immensely popular. He was popular, but not as invincibly so as we may think. Republican challengers before the United States involved itself in World War II, such as Wendell Wilkie, were genuine competitors,...
Theodore F. Sheckels
Lexington Books
3,305
Description: The Rhetoric of the American Political Party Conventions, 1948–2016
The “wild card,” as the 1952 election year approached, was General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the very popular former commander of allied troops in Europe during the latter years of World War II. After the war, he had left the Army behind and chosen a combination of rest and relaxation on his Pennsylvania farm and the presidency (to a large extent, ceremonial) of New York City’s...
Theodore F. Sheckels
Lexington Books
3,585
Description: The Rhetoric of the American Political Party Conventions, 1948–2016
Looking back, most probably would quickly surmise that 1956 was an unexciting year at the party conventions. The Republicans had a popular incumbent in Eisenhower; the Democrats had, once again, a difficult time coming up with a strong alternative. Eisenhower’s health created an awkward window for the Democrats to try to crawl through: America, Democrats could insinuate, needed a president...
Theodore F. Sheckels
Lexington Books
2,937
Description: The Rhetoric of the American Political Party Conventions, 1948–2016
There was tension in both party camps in 1956. At conventions otherwise not especially memorable, the tension surfaced. Viewers saw Stevenson brought low by Truman—only to be elevated by noble Eleanor Roosevelt and young John F. Kennedy; viewers sensed the rhetorical tug-of-war going on between those who disliked Nixon and those who wanted or felt they had to remake him. Both parties were...
Theodore F. Sheckels
Lexington Books
3,319
Description: The Rhetoric of the American Political Party Conventions, 1948–2016
When the Republicans convened at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, the conservatives whom Goldwater had rallied in 1960 had indeed taken back the party. And their candidate for president was none other than Barry Goldwater. Before the RNC, there had, however, been considerable division in the party, division that would result in what is arguably the ugliest convention considered in this study.
Theodore F. Sheckels
Lexington Books
4,292
Description: The Rhetoric of the American Political Party Conventions, 1948–2016
The Republicans learned a lesson in 1964: a convention featuring dissent—and the suppression of dissent—did not serve the party well when broadcasted live to Americans coast-to-coast. Such a convention might make partisans, such as Goldwater’s ardent conservative followers, feel good, but it was very poor public relations. 1964 was both prior to the advent of cable television,...
Theodore F. Sheckels
Lexington Books
5,228
Description: The Rhetoric of the American Political Party Conventions, 1948–2016
The 1964 RNC led party leaders to control their 1968 gathering. The 1968 DNC led party leaders to embark on reforms. Although some in the party undoubtedly dragged their feet, these reforms would change the way the Democratic Party did its quadrennial business. Power would pass from “party regulars” to the people, who, through primaries and caucuses, would choose most of the delegates...
Theodore F. Sheckels
Lexington Books
3,178
Description: The Rhetoric of the American Political Party Conventions, 1948–2016
The Democrats learned a great deal from 1972. Former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter learned from how McGovern had secured the 1972 nomination and followed pretty much the same course. He began as an unlikely nominee, thought to be “second tier” by many pundits. He ended up heading to Madison Square Garden in New York City with the requisite delegates and the nomination safely in hand....
Theodore F. Sheckels
Lexington Books
2,783
Description: The Rhetoric of the American Political Party Conventions, 1948–2016
At the 1976 RNC, those supporting Ronald Reagan eventually yielded to Gerald Ford’s nomination. At the 1980 RNC, Reagan’s supporters would yield to nothing and no one. By 1980, the party was really no longer one with two wings. The northeastern moderates had shrunk in number and in power. To the extent there was a moderate challenge to Reagan, it had come from a Texan with strong...
Theodore F. Sheckels
Lexington Books
3,745
Description: The Rhetoric of the American Political Party Conventions, 1948–2016
1984 was not likely to be the Democrats’ year: Reagan was too popular with both Republicans and with those popularly referred to as “Reagan Democrats,” a less liberal, more working class group than those who had come to dominate the Democratic Party. The Democrats, meeting in convention, could have seen their exigence being to recapture these “Reagan Democrats” by...
Theodore F. Sheckels
Lexington Books
3,301
Description: The Rhetoric of the American Political Party Conventions, 1948–2016
Many in politics have observed that the American electorate seems to bounce from party to party in eight-year cycles. According to this theory, voters grow tired of one party’s approach and say, collectively, let’s give the other one a chance. This eight-year cycle theory does not play out perfectly if applied to twentieth-century politics, but it does describe many of the swings we...
Theodore F. Sheckels
Lexington Books
3,063
Description: The Rhetoric of the American Political Party Conventions, 1948–2016
How Michael Dukakis lost the election of 1988 is not an appropriate subject for this book, but there was throughout the Democratic Party the belief that he did indeed lose it. He let Bush, through positive and negative advertising, define both candidates. Dukakis, probably because of internal problems within the campaign, was late in responding to the Bush ads. So, in the midst of the...
Theodore F. Sheckels
Lexington Books
7,486
Description: The Rhetoric of the American Political Party Conventions, 1948–2016
The story of television coverage of the political conventions has been a subtext throughout this study. Anyone studying the rhetorical events of the meetings must be aware of how they are playing through the media that transformed conventions from party meetings to public spectacles. Initially, television was happy to have the conventions to cover. Television did not, in journalistic terms, have...
Theodore F. Sheckels
Lexington Books
3,480
Description: The Rhetoric of the American Political Party Conventions, 1948–2016
A year out, there was no clear frontrunner for the 2000 Republican nomination. The race should have been wide open with many seeking the nod. Surprisingly then, Texas Governor George W. Bush steered his way through the primary season with relative ease and was the presumptive nominee long before the RNC met. Going into that convention, he had two major tasks to accomplish. First, he was not that...
Theodore F. Sheckels
Lexington Books
3,519
Description: The Rhetoric of the American Political Party Conventions, 1948–2016
The 2000 election was controversial: it hinged on Florida’s electoral votes, and it required the intervention of the U.S. Supreme Court to decide, finally, to whom those votes should be awarded. So, George W. Bush became president with fewer popular votes than Al Gore and many lingering questions about what would have happened had the Supreme Court allowed a full recount to go forward...
Theodore F. Sheckels
Lexington Books
5,437
Description: The Rhetoric of the American Political Party Conventions, 1948–2016
Whereas conduct of the wars was supposedly Bush’s “Achilles’ heel” in 2004, his management of the economy was his—and by extension his party’s—“Achilles’ heel” in 2008. This is not the place to describe in detail the economic problems facing the nation in this election year. The simplest way to put it is to say that banks and other...
Theodore F. Sheckels
Lexington Books
4,410
Description: The Rhetoric of the American Political Party Conventions, 1948–2016
An incumbent president arguably has an advantage over a challenger when seeking reelection. He is the president. He is greeted by “Hail to the Chief,” he has the presidential seal on the podium when he speaks, and he can act presidentially in any number of ways—sign bills, visit or host foreign leaders, address the nation on television. This advantage helped Eisenhower in 1956...
Theodore F. Sheckels
Lexington Books
2,468
Description: The Rhetoric of the American Political Party Conventions, 1948–2016
Some in politics hold to the notion of eight-year cycles. After eight years with one party in office, the public is ready to give the other the nod, ready for a change. Although this pattern is not followed perfectly in the years we are studying, if we allow for slight variations, the pattern is there. So, in 2016, the Republicans might have thought that this desire for changing the guard would...
Theodore F. Sheckels
Lexington Books
7,113
Description: The Rhetoric of the American Political Party Conventions, 1948–2016
This study has treated the political party conventions of the different years, 1948 to 2016, as separate events. The assumption has been that they are rhetorically separate events, and they are. Nonetheless, there are similarities among them and, thus, general conclusions that can be offered. In this brief chapter, seven will be offered.
Theodore F. Sheckels
Lexington Books
3,225
Description: The Rhetoric of the American Political Party Conventions, 1948–2016
Theodore F. Sheckels
Lexington Books
2,939
Description: The Rhetoric of the American Political Party Conventions, 1948–2016
Agnew, Spiro...
Theodore F. Sheckels
Lexington Books
2,706
Description: The Rhetoric of the American Political Party Conventions, 1948–2016
Theodore F. Sheckels is Charles J. Potts Professor of Social Science and professor of English and communication studies at Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, Virginia. He has published on a wide range of subjects, including book-length studies of Australian film and the fiction of Canadian author Margaret Atwood. In political...
Theodore F. Sheckels
Lexington Books
135
Description: The Rhetoric of the American Political Party Conventions, 1948–2016
Series Editor: Robert E. Denton, Jr., Virginia Tech University
Theodore F. Sheckels
Lexington Books
161