McCool gives an overview of the modern theoretical justifications for institutional politics, starting with Hobbes and Locke. Institutional politics presumes to create neutral, objective ways to solve political disputes in society. It relies on a moderate version of theatrical politics, in which individuals follow rules of decorum and procedure, rather than engaging in emotional self-expression. From here, McCool explores the ways in which institutional politics was employed as a counterrevolutionary discourse by Publius in the Federal Papers and the leftist critiques of this idea. Finally, the political rhetoric of Abraham Lincoln as a conservative institutionalist is detailed, showing how his communicative distance from his readers strikes a balance between authenticity, theatricality, and institutionalism, reminiscent of Thoreau.