Throw the bums out : anti-government rhetoric in the 2010 Congressional elections
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] This study's unique contribution is its development of a broad-based definition of anti-government rhetoric grounded in a systematic analysis of anti-government expression found in candidates' congressional campaign discourse. The definitional typology advanced in this study offers rhetoricians a starting point to better understand the basic tenets of this rhetorical form, as well as the techniques and strategies candidates adopt when employing anti-government appeals. After analyzing campaign discourse from 45 selected "toss up" races from the 2010 midterm U.S. Congressional election, this study found that anti-government rhetoric seeks to create a polarization between the interests of government and of the people. Following the either-or logic of anti-government appeals, an elected official must choose allegiance to the people or to government -- a choice that complicates successful governing by those we have elected to lead our nation. As political deliberation seeks to reach acceptable compromise among competing factions, anti-government rhetors' either-or, all-or-nothing political worldview and approach to problem solving reveals motivations and perspectives deleterious for a deliberative democracy. Although such rhetoric may be successful for political campaigning, arguments against the utility of government action and legislative compromise are dangerous for our nation, as anti-government rhetoric promotes decision-making based upon one's sworn allegiance against government and one's political opposition instead of encouraging our multi-party federal legislature to enact policies in the best interest of all citizens.
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