The Politics of Doom: Rhetorical Bluster or Electorally Transformative?

Contemporary politics is less a formal party system, organized around substantively different sets of beliefs, and more an emergent schism between doomsday prophets who can agree that America is in decline and freedom is fast slipping away, but lay the blame for impending cataclysm at the feet of their rivals. Political identity is subsumed by end-time beliefs; the operative variable is whether one believes the president or his detractors are the agents responsible. The prophets…

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In defense of political polarization

The attempt by a deranged individual to assassinate a group of Republican legislators was all too illustrative of the ugly rhetoric of force, the last resort of those who know not how to reason. It cast a pall over the collective mood of the nation’s elected officials and led to a rare moment of universal clarity, causing both Democrats and Republicans to descry the discourse of venom and acrimony which seems to increasingly dominate politics…

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The ambiguous “we” of modern American politics

From the beginning, Monday night’s presidential debate was a cavalcade of collectivist rhetoric, with both candidates frequently invoking an ambiguous “we” as justification for their plans and policy positions. Leaving aside the troubling implications such attitudes towards expansive central control have for a society supposedly founded on the idea of power flowing upwards from the self-sovereign individual, the grounding of political discourse in such insubstantial language is troubling. “We” is an enigma, and enigmas have…

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