Mary E. Stuckey


On her book Political Vocabularies: FDR, the Clergy Letters, and the Elements of Political Argument

Cover Interview of May 27, 2018


Members of the clergy were both members of an elite and also very closely connected with local communities. Some were relatively prosperous, while others were struggling, so they had a unique set of perspectives on the political changes and challenges associated with the New Deal. And those perspectives add to our understanding of that important moment in time.

We live in different political worlds, constructed through rhetoric. Our understandings of the kinds of authority that are appropriate for a democracy differ. Our understandings of the kinds of people who make good citizens and the hierarchies among those citizens differ. How we justify our beliefs, and, as a result, which policies we prefer, differs. This book, which examines those differences in the 1930s, helps us better understand our own times. We can’t begin to solve the problems associated with political polarization until we have understood its roots. I hope that this book contributes to that endeavor.