The author(s) chose to restrict access to this thesis to current Whitman students, faculty, and staff. Please log in to view it.
How did we get here? : precursors to modern day American conservatism
Fionna N.O. Cohen
May 9, 2018
Department or Program
In today’s political landscape and popular culture, conservative messages and rhetoric are commonplace and prevalent. This thesis aims to understand the origins of these messages and the reason for their lasting appeal. Building on preexisting literature, that establishes the origins of modern conservatism in the post war period, specifically in the early 1960s, this thesis preforms a content analysis of speeches by Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan. Grounded in a combination of social movements and discourse theory, it identifies the trends in language use and the ideological similarities and differences between the three politicians. It attempts to answer questions regarding what factors allowed for the successful emergence of conservatism and how previous messages both connect to and are different from those of today.