Rhetorical Republic: Governing Representations in American Politics

Rhetorical Republic: Governing Representations in American Politics

Rhetorical Republic: Governing Representations in American Politics

Rhetorical Republic: Governing Representations in American Politics

Synopsis

Reflects on how practices of representation in popular culture, the news media and the law constitute the primary instruments of political governance in the United States. The editors argue that the struggle over the representation of politics is as important as the struggle over power.

Excerpt

Frederick M. Dolan and Thomas L. Dumm

We are presenting the essays gathered in this volume out of a conviction that the struggle over the representation of politics in the public spheres of late-twentieth-century America has become the single most important force shaping political life in this country, and that the methods and approaches of political science have proved inadequate for the study of the discourses, imagery, interpretations, and desires attached to practices of representation. Indeed, not only has American political science failed to address what Anne Norton calls "governing representations" of contemporary politics, but it also has done much to obfuscate the political implications of representational practices. It is ironic that in the United States of America, the triumphant product of a spectacular founding fiction, modern political science has chosen to present itself as an attempt to "get real" by turning away from the imaginative productions of political theory and "modeling" the gritty business of competing interests, bargaining, and logrolling as viewed through such methodological lenses as complex correlation study and regression plot analysis. the discipline betrays a longing for precisely what must always be missing from politics, a desire to substitute the putative laws of an imaginary social science for the inherent unpredictability and open-endedness of public life.

The authors brought together here view American politics from a variety of perspectives, but they share the conviction that to approach politics through empirical research on governmental institutions and policy processes, hagiographical studies of constitutional law, and in-

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