Opening the President's Mailbag: The Nixon Administration's Rhetorical Use of Public Opinion Mail by ProQuest


In this article, I extend the empirical discussion of the instrumental value of public opinion by exploring the uses of public opinion mail to advance the political goals of the Nixon White House, in particular in their rhetorical construction of public opinion. I draw on internal archival material from the Nixon White House demonstrating the Nixon administration's desire to use public opinion mail for rhetorical purposes and combine this archival analysis with a collected data set of public presidential statements referencing public opinion mail. I find that President Richard Nixon referred to public opinion mail to demonstrate the harmony of his position with the public interest, especially on salient issues, including the Vietnam War and the wage and price freeze, and to humanize his policy positions. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

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