In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush and his administration offered a 'political fundamentalism' that capitalized upon the fear felt by many Americans. Political fundamentalism is the adaptation of a conservative religious worldview, via strategic language choices and communication approaches, into a policy agenda that feels political rather than religious. These communications dominated public discourse and public opinion for months on end and came at a significant cost for democracy.
In particular, the administration closed off a substantive societal – and international – conversation about the meaning of the terrorist attacks and the direction of the nation by consistently:
• showing antipathy toward complex conceptions of reality;
• framing calls for immediate action on administration policies as part of the nation’s 'calling' and 'mission' against terrorism;
• issuing declarations about the will of God for America and the values of freedom and liberty;
• and demonstrating an intolerance for dissent.
The administration had help spreading its messages. The mainstream press consistently echoed the administration’s communications – thereby disseminating, reinforcing and embedding the administration’s fundamentalist worldview and helping to keep at bay Congress and any substantive public questioning. This study, a model of interdisciplinary scholarship, creatively illuminates the theoretical and normative issues arising from the post-9/11 presidency of George W. Bush, with its unprecedented deployment of religious rhetoric and commitment to a "political fundamentalism" that challenges longstanding norms of American politics. Not merely a work of great analytical insight, it is a book of moral precision, even courage. David Domke's research merits careful attention from scholars, students, and all patriotic Americans (very much including journalists) who care about the fate of our democracy. (Robert M. Entman, Author, Projections of Power: Framing News, Public Opinion and U.S. Foreign Policy)
David Domke's God Willing? is an original and timely examination of contemporary U.S. politics and the role of the media in permitting grave assaults on democratic practices and values.
Domke brilliantly dissects the rhetoric and reality of what he terms "political fundamentalism," and opens up fruitful new ways to understand the current political environment. I give this book an unconditional endorsement. (Robert W. McChesney, Professor, Institute of Communication Research University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Author, The Problem of the Media)
This book analyzes hundreds of administration communications and news stories from September 2001 to Iraq in spring 2003 to examine how this occurred and what it means for U.S. politics and the global landscape.