which an audience can understand and interpret events. In the absence of such a context, neither the candidate nor his message is intelligible or powerful.
A final observation concerns the nature of the appeals used by the candidates in the study. All of the appeals that are powerful and convincing involve appeals to emotion. This issue has two sides to it: the candidate and the audience. From the perspective of the audience, when our political speech involves emotional appeals and high symbolism, when our orators are expected to entertain rather than enlighten us, we will generate a certain kind of leader. Children learn to watch television at ever-earlier ages; they have developed a decreasing tolerance for things that do not come in tidy, emotionally appealing, and simple packages. Quite simply, people are not learning to listen to substantive rhetoric, and they are paying the price in leadership.
From the perspective of the candidates, when they appeal to reason they become dry and their rhetoric loses much of its force. This is a disturbing development. For in focusing on emotional appeals, political speakers are contributing to a debasement of our political speech and political symbolism. The symbols being used become cheapened; their meanings become less well defined. They are routes to an emotional reaction, and serve as ends in themselves rather than as tools for communicating about substantive and important issues.
The question is really one of the connection between good rhetoric and good politics. Reagan and Hart, for example, are masterful in their use of emotional appeals and evocative symbolism. But what kind of politics does this rhetoric lead us to? Political scientists are increasingly concerned with the question of image over substance in our national politics. Nowhere is this issue more clear than in the rhetoric of the candidates for national office.
Portions of this chapter were presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Washington, D.C., August