A Shining City on a Hill

Ronald Reagan's Economic Rhetoric, 1951-1989

by Amos Kiewe, Davis W. Houck


The results of a longitudinal study of Ronald Reagan's economic discourse beginning in his Hollywood years, this book shows how rhetorical forces can play a significant role in advancing economic matters.

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Cover image for A Shining City on a Hill

September 1991


Pages 264
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Politics, Law, and Government/General

This rhetorical criticism of spoken discourse examines Ronald Reagan's polished attempts to persuade the public on economic matters. Amos Kiewe and Davis Houck examine the substance, style, and developmental pattern of Reagan's rhetoric on economic matters and discuss how that rhetoric informed the president's views on other issues. This book demonstrates how rhetorical forces can play a significant role in shaping and selling economic policy.

Kiewe and Houck employ a variety of theoretical perspectives for their longitudinal study of Ronald Reagan's economic discourse, beginning with the former actor/President's Hollywood years. Their analysis of close to a hundred speeches provides a chronological account of the character and development of Reagan's economic rhetoric (as opposed to a critique of its effectiveness). Synthesizing the strategies, self-contradictions, shifts, influences, and patterns in Reagan's economic discourse, Kiewe and Houck conclude that Reagan's economic discourse heavily influenced his views and rhetoric on foreign policy, national defense, the environment, and other issues--Reagan saw the world through economic lenses. This study is valuable to political scientists, economists, and scholars of rhetoric.

Table of Contents

About the SeriesSeries ForewordIntroductionFinding the Rest of HimselfThe Creative Society: Part OneThe Creative Society: Part TwoFrom Federalism to Supply SideA New BeginningThe Second American RevolutionThe Reagan LegacySelected BibliographyIndex



Amos Kiewe, who teaches communication at Syracuse University, and his colleague, Davis W. Houck, who teaches at the University of California at Davis, examine the verbal tactics used by Reagan over a period of 40 years to sell his economic policies. They find his persuasive powers effective, even though they deem his policies, based on questionable supply-side economic theories, flawed.—FORUM FOR APPLIED RESEARCH AND PUBLIC POLICY

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