The Strategy of Rhetoric: Campaigning for the American Constitution

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This book, the last work of an eminent political scientist, is an innovative study of persuasion in a landmark political event: the 1787-88 campaign to ratify the United States Constitution. William Riker uses both historical and rational choice analysis to examine the rhetoric and strategic manipulations used in this campaign, and he points out patterns and principles that should be applicable to political campaigns in general.

Riker examines the campaign's rhetoric and derives strategic principles that seem to guide campaigners. These principles explain, among other things, the frequent reliance on negative themes in campaigns. He also investigates what he calls "heresthetic"--how campaigners structured situations so that their preferred outcome was more likely to occur. He discusses several heresthetical maneuvers that made the Federalists' narrow victory possible, such as their proposal of a constitution that was broader than most citizens would have preferred, and their design of the ratification process as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition, so that they could prevent any ratifying state from altering it. Riker concludes by examining the relationship between rhetoric and heresthetic. He shows that both were necessary for the Federalist victory: rhetoric, to build support for Federalist positions, and heresthetic, to structure the choice process so that this level of support would be sufficient. His analysis yields a new understanding of the ratification campaign, and the tools and approaches he develops lead toward the further development of the science of political campaigns, of political rhetoric generally, and of the art and science of heresthetic.

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Contents

Rhetoric and Heresthetic
3
The Proposed Constitution of 1787
15
Data and Methods for the Study of Campaigns
23
Campaign Themes
32
The Utility of Negative Themes
49
Acceptance over Different Ranges of Income
54
Constitutional Reform is Desirable
70
Rhetorical Interaction in the Campaigns
75
Nationalist Domination of the Selection of Delegates to the Philadelphia Convention
147
The Nationalist Strategy for Ratification
163
The Federalist Coalition Expands
183
in the Dictionary of American Biography 1928
192
The Federalists Regain Momentum
209
Concord
213
Virginia and the Failure of Antifederalism
220
Federalists Outflank Antifederalists
229

Toward a Theory of Rhetoric in Campaigns
99
Evidence about Dominance and Dispersion
110
THE HERESTHETIC OF THE RATIFICATION CAMPAIGNS
127
The Agenda for Ratification
129
Ideal Points of Various Groups and Lines Separating
135
Nationalist Domination in the Congresses of the 1780s
139
o 1 The Distribution of Ideology in Congressional
141
Forging the Final Constitution
241
CONCLUSIONS
251
Rhetoric and Heresthetic
253
Rhetorical Themes 178788
265
Index
275
Copyright

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