1st Edition

Why Conservatives Tell Stories and Liberals Don't
Rhetoric, Faith, and Vision on the American Right

ISBN 9781594518744
Published September 30, 2010 by Routledge
271 Pages

USD $52.95

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Book Description

Why do conservatives tell stories? Because it helps them win elections and assail liberal policies like health care reform and economic stimulus. "Why" is important, but the "what" and the "how" behind the stories that conservatives tell are equally interesting, and in this new book, David Ricci reveals all. He shows how conservative activists and candidates tell many tales that come together to project a large-scale story; a cultural narrative; a vision of what America is and what it should do to prosper socially, economically, and politically. Liberals, by contrast, tend to look for theories rather than stories, for mathematical explanations rather than theological axioms, for data rather than anecdotes, and for statistics rather than homilies. The difference is paradoxical. Liberals are unlikely to fashion sweeping narratives that capture the public s attention and commitment. Yet conservatives may tell attractive stories like the ones that got us into Iraq that momentarily capture voter support but end up costing the country more than it can afford."



“Why Conservatives Tell Stories and Liberals Don’t is a powerful and compelling exposé of the rhetorical ploys, propositions, and perversions that underlie the manifold varieties of conservative talk in contemporary U.S. politics. David Ricci is both an astute and politically engaged observer of the conservative mind and he is a careful, meticulous scholar of the arguments, ideas, and stories that preoccupy it. Anyone seeking explanations for the staying power of U.S. conservatism and the larger political vision it represents will find answers and insights aplenty in this erudite and indispensable book.”
—Mary G. Dietz, Northwestern University

“Talk matters! In this imaginative study of conservative rhetoric in postwar America, David Ricci shows how the right has capitalized on a message of ‘God, country, and freedom.’ At the same time, while the progressive left has won elections—witness Barack Obama—its message has been inconsistent and less resonant with the American people.”
—Donald T. Critchlow, Arizona State University

“When America’s progressives settle down and regain their composure in the wake of their next major setback, if they want to assess the reasons for their defeat and are fully ready to rethink, they will have to start with this gracefully written book.”
—Paul A. Rahe, Hillsdale College

“This book is an important and timely contribution to understanding the current purchase of modern conservatism and the culture wars. Across a wide range of public issues, Ricci demonstrates that conservative story-telling remains not only forceful in forging a ‘macro-reality’ not easily dislodged by contrary evidence, but also costly in terms of real-world outcomes.”
—Amy Ansell, Emerson College

“Liberals take note: ‘Just the facts, Ma’am,’ will not do it. Conservatives tell stories to exclude, to enchant, and to recombine elements of the world that have no business being together. Ever wondered why billionaires, neoconservatives, and creationists manage to hang together? David Ricci has the most compelling of answers.”
—Mark Blyth, Brown University