Rhetoric as a Way of Limiting the Range of Acceptable Policy Positions

Originally published in The Journal of Private Enterprise

Understanding how political actors not only set the terms of policy debates but limit the range of acceptable policy positions is critical to understanding the political process. Beyond their most preferred policies, politicians and special interests have sets of policies that they would find acceptable, though not ideal. In addition to advocating for their policy ideals, political actors attempt to limit debate to those policies that are within their preferred set. This rhetorical strategy has implications for how to identify, assess, and discuss policy debates and likely outcomes.

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