Document Type


Publication Date



Throughout his administration, FDR engaged in a complex set of arguments that worked together to defend democracy in general as a viable form of government; American democracy as the highest expression of democratic government; the primacy of the federal government as the most efficient and effective locus of democratic power; and the executive office as the culmination of the form, efficiency, and locus of that power. My specific concern here is with one form those arguments took, the visual metaphors that permeate FDR’s rhetoric. Visuality in FDR’s rhetoric is especially intriguing because of the way it interacted with the prevailing political culture in order to underwrite radical shifts in political power by helping FDR persuade the mass public to accept a synoptic view of nationalism and governmental responsibility. These changes have implications for presidents, presidential candidates, and for the citizens whose support they seek.


The version of record of this article was published in the Quarterly Journal of Speech and is available here to subscribers. Copyright 2012 Informa Ltd.

The post-print (post-peer-reviewed) version of this article is posted here with the permission of the author.

Included in

Communication Commons