The Superhero Next Door: Democratic Leadership and the Duality of Character
17 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2014
Date Written: February 8, 2009
Democratic leaders stand out, and yet they must persuade an audience that they are one of the crowd. I untangle this apparent paradox by clarifying the duality of a trustworthy and persuasive character. As a speaker in a democracy you must show that you are "one of the boys." You might not be like them in education, speaking style, or economic circumstances; you must not be like them in that you have special knowledge relevant to the matter at hand; but you must be like them in that you share their moral values and political interests. I then give two further applications of the duality of character: I use that duality to explore how the speaker claims our attention in the first place, and to explain the role of principled arguments and the role of factual assertions in political speech.
Keywords: rhetoric, character, ethos, Obama, Hillary Colinton, Biden, Palin, foreign policy, Martin luther King, prophecy, facts
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