Politics and Campaigns

2000px-Vertical_United_States_Flag.svgPosts with relevance to governing and campaigns: A Sampler of Rhetorical Analyses

Singular explanations that cast entire communities in the same mold are a reminder that we articulate what we need more than what we know.

It’s an ironclad rule of rhetoric that we often seek personal redemption through the act of victimizing another.

The melioristic perspective is a useful indicator of how an individual has constituted the future and their role in it.

What many in Britain consider a stale feature of their system would be nothing less than a breath of fresh air in ours.

Mayors must function in a political world that is far closer to what the ancients in Greece and Sicily had in mind as the model for a democratic life.

President Kennedy in the Oval Office, 1963

Almost all of the energy in our public rhetoric is reserved for unmasking what appears to many as the unjustified and self-serving optimism of political elites

The truth is that we don’t really know why despair appears to be spreading across Middle America.  But it clearly is, with troubling consequences for our society as a whole. –Paul Krugman

Candidates usually fear debates. They and their staffs believe that a serious gaff can sink an entire campaign. So they hedge their bets. 

Most people accustomed to the public arena have learned to not take audience opposition personally. In return, members opposed to a persuader can show unexpected forbearance. 

Somehow we are going to have to get beyond celebrating the unilateralism that is our preferred rhetoric.

Sadat, Carter and Began Source: Wikipedia

Prayers within a place of worship seem right, but even some clergy think it’s a bad fit when prayers are imposed on others beyond a given faith community.

Thinking dualistically isn’t just a habit born in English. Yet the language supports binary thinking so well. That, and the use of toxic terms, can get us into serious trouble.

Nearly all Americans can be provoked into political engagement if they suspect their identity interests are threatened by governmental bodies. 

Think of “transcendence” as a verbal bridge: a single word or phrase that narrows the gap between two views to the point where “opposing sides” almost disappear. 

If it doesn’t seem quite fair to be an earwitness to the unraveling of one man’s perfectly ordered world, the compensation of hearing the “Johnson Treatment” first hand is justification enough.

When did burning down the house become the preferred solution for sorting out its various problems? 

You can doll-up the 140 character/20-word limit as “microblogging.”  But that term hardly does justice to the vacuous sneering this social media form has unleashed into our national discourse. 

With this process in place we might never have seen the Edsel, New Coke, the Iraq War, Apple Watch, Brexit, and any of thousands of misadventures.

The usual vocabulary of public memorials includes the use height and solidity to reflect rebirth and remembrance. In two of the nation’s most visited monuments that has changed.

All politicians engage in degrees of hyperbole.  Even so, we expect that political candidates will not become completely untethered from the facts as we know them: that they will not seek the favor of the least-informed by making statements that ignore the truth.

It’s common to see news reporters and many of the rest of us assigning agency—and, hence, responsibility—to individuals or groups for whom the term is, at best, a stretch. 

All of us have probably engaged in some form of the dark gambit of ‘affirmation by denial.’ But it’s a long way from the more honest style of expressing only those accusations  that we are prepared to own.   

In this election cycle there is a common misperception that it is the moderator’s job to comment on a debater’s lies or false claims.  But that’s the job of the other debater. In a true debate the participants aren’t responding to reporters, but fact-checking each other.  

We seem to love news stories built around the game of politics.

Many seem comfortable living without even an elementary understanding of the world they “know.”

Trump ran as an insurgent.  But he can’t govern as one.  Our badly split nation will need a leader who can find principles of common ground even with political opponents.

If older Americans are uneasy about the man who will occupy of the White House, it may be because the recent election has parallels to the dark aftermath of The Battle of Chicago.

There is still time, but at some point soon Trump’s trail of rhetorical malfeasance will deny him the legitimacy he needs to be an effective president.

Of course we can do politics at a distance through all kinds of dreary media: direct mail, tweets, television advertising, robocalls and other poor substitutes for direct citizen action.  But there’s a better option.

It’s still a surprise to encounter a president who mostly shuns the potent rhetorical power of the office in favor of throwing little grenades of text out to small screens.

As the fates would have it, a Politburo-style maneuver failed.

His utterances come with a vast victimology that ranges from the press, to former friends and GOP allies, to loyal members of his cabinet.

Trump is an easy and often deserving target.  A President who flouts traditions, protocols and courtesies cannot help but turn himself into a negative model.

The current President produces a jarring and familiar sense of dislocation:  behavior rife with violated norms, intimations of collusion with shady figures, and shameless cronyism.  Was it always so?