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Understanding the Impact Presidential Rhetoric Has on Coalition Building

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posted on 09.06.2022, 20:48 authored by Jordyn Gilliard

Literature suggests that coalition building depends on legitimacy, political incentives, proximity and shared culture. However, I find that presidential rhetoric appears to be one of the most influential conditions when seeking to form a coalition in the absence of legitimacy, incentives, proximity and shared culture. Establishing a coalition requires collaboration between a diverse set of sovereign state actors, and highlighting shared interests. To cultivate collaboration the president must appeal to his audience through the use of rhetoric. Thus the U.S president can strengthen their shared interest argument by incorporating principles of moral foundations theory into their argument to enhance the appeal. The theory revolves around a set of five universally accepted values that explain moral reasoning and discusses why humans arrive at the conclusions they do. Moral foundations theory can help explain the underlying causes for states’ willingness to join military coalitions with the United States. However, as revealed within the study different audiences attract to different moral intuitions. The overall findings suggests that by incorporating moral intuitions into presidential speeches to emphasize shared interests, the president is able to further persuade state actors to form a coalition. Though the president’s usage of the moral foundations theory may not be intentional, the theory can help us advance literature on how coalition building is established. With a large coalition the president can advance policy objectives such as liberty, freedom and other democratic norms. Hence, the goal of this research paper is to present cases that display presidential rhetoric in use as the president uses values of moral intuition to help strengthen their argument that nations should collaborate with the United States because of shared interests.




Degree Type

Master's Thesis


Institute for Politics and Strategy

Degree Name

  • Master of Science (MS)


Molly Dunigan Geoff McGovern

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