One America?

Presidential Appeals to Racial Resentment from LBJ to Trump

By Nathan Angelo

Subjects: Presidency, The, Communication, African American Studies, American Politics, American History
Hardcover : 9781438471518, 318 pages, May 2019
Paperback : 9781438471525, 318 pages, January 2020

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

1. How Have Presidents Addressed Race since 1964?

2. We’re One America: Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 Campaign and Richard Nixon’s 1972 Campaign

3. Back to Basic Values: Ronald Reagan’s 1984 Campaign and George H. W. Bush’s 1988 Campaign

4. One America Redux: Clinton’s 1996 Campaign

5. New Strategies for The Right? George W. Bush’s 2004 Campaign

6. An Old Message to Reach New Groups: Obama’s 2012 Campaign

7. Strategy, Rhetoric, and the Future: Does it Matter What Presidents Say About Race and Ethnicity?

Epilogue Trump

Reveals how presidents deploy a rhetoric that attempts to attract many racial and ethnic groups, but ultimately directs itself to an archtypal white, Middle-American swing voter.


Despite major advancements in civil rights in the United States since the 1960s, racial inequality continues to persist in American society. While it may appear that presidents do not address the topic of race, it lurks in the background of presidential political speech across a range of issues, including welfare, crime, and American identity. Using a thorough approach that places textual analysis in a historical context, One America? asks what presidents say about race, how often they say it, and to whom they say it. Nathan Angelo demonstrates how presidents attempt to use rhetoric to compose a message that will resonate with the many groups that comprise the modern party system, but ultimately those alliances cause presidents to direct most of their speeches about race to an archetypical white, Middle-American swing voter, thereby restricting the issues and solutions that they discuss. While the American demographic profile is changing, rhetoric that links American identity with racially coded concepts and appeals to white voters' racial resentments has become ubiquitous. Angelo warns us about the possible repercussions of such tactics, noting that, while they may allow presidents to craft winning coalitions, their use continues to legitimate a system that ignores racial inequality.

Nathan Angelo is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Worcester State University.


"This book will interest scholars in general but particularly those studying race relations, presidential rhetoric, campaigns and elections, and individual presidents. " — CHOICE