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Master's Professional Reports Abstract

Presidential Rhetoric and Devolution: Johnson to Clinton
Joshua Allen
REPORT 2000 AL537 Public Affairs Library

The following is an analysis of presidential rhetoric of devolution ‹ moving traditional roles of the federal government to state and local governments, the private sector, communities and individuals. The report examines state of the union addresses from 1964 to 1999, focusing on how presidents discussed the federal governmentıs role. Categories of speech examined include opportunity, economy, budget, accountability and partnerships. Through those categories, the annual addresses reveal how the view of government evolved, how reliance on value words changed from designing programs to supporting partnerships, and how the view of government and the use of values interrelate. In state of the union addresses, presidents not only outline their policy proposals for the year but also reflect and affect the national political discourse. The report examines how the discourse evolved from a Democratic presidentıs "Great Society" to a Democratic presidentıs declaration, "the era of big government is over."