This essay examines Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural address. In this speech, Reagan used a strategy of “ultimate definition,” consisting of three components. First, the inaugural articulated a broad ideological worldview that prescribed a very limited role for government as the solution to the economic crisis. Second, it appealed to a value system that co-opted the progressive values of contemporary liberalism. Finally, it contained a powerful narration of that worldview in the form of an individualist story of the American Dream.

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