The artless art: leadership and the limits of democratic rhetoric
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Persuasion is vital to the practice of democratic leadership, making speech and communication of fundamental importance. Yet, democratic citizens habitually suspect political rhetoric as being either deceitfully empty or dangerously subversive. Rhetoric is thus central in democracy while paradoxically appearing either useless or pernicious. A consequence of this paradox for democratic leaders is that they are forced to avoid fine oratory in favour of a rhetorical style that sounds un-rhetorical, seeming to be plain factually-informative speech. This unique democratic form of rhetoric, which we have called an artless art, seeks to instil trust and to avoid appearing to talk down to the sovereign people. It is both helped and rendered problematic by the media, the essential communicative means in modern society, whose current dominance presents ever-new challenges and opportunities to democratic leaders.
Australian Journal of Political Science
Copyright 2010 Routledge. This is an electronic version of an article published in Australian Journal of Political Science Volume 45, Issue 3 September 2010 , pages 371 - 389. Australian Journal of Political Science is available online at: http://www.informaworld.com with the open URL of your article.
Political Theory and Political Philosophy