Freedom in speech: Freedom and liberty in U.S. presidential campaign discourse, 1952-2004

Journal Article (Journal Article)

"Freedom" is a flexible and powerful word. When a speaker describes a soldier as a "freedom fighter," the New Deal as a way to achieve "freedom from poverty," or taxation as a threat to freedom, he or she implicitly identifies heroes, villains, rights, and violations of rights. To identify the ways freedom - and its close cousin "liberty" - have been used in American presidential campaign discourse, I analyzed 88 speeches from 28 Republican and Democratic presidential nominating conventions (1952-2004). This study is the first to code and categorize the variable meanings of freedom and liberty language. I found that freedom and liberty terms were most often used in reference to Communism, economic freedom, individual liberty from government, and in ways that did not reference anything specific. I identify how such freedom language may encourage particular policies, citizen identities, and national memories. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Easter, MM

Published Date

  • August 1, 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 36 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 265 - 286

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0304-422X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.poetic.2008.03.001

Citation Source

  • Scopus