The Dynamics of Ideology and Forms of Ideological Rhetoric
American politics is unique. Unlike many other countries, Americans have no sustained radical tradition.1 But in times of severe psychic shock to the civic body, in times of extreme social disruptions or political displacements, ideologies--like charismatic movements--arise.2 In fact, such social turmoil may be imperative for the emergence of ideologies. Thus, it was so in the mid-1960s. Frustrated by their inability to end the war or angered by their inability to curb racial injustice or outraged by the refusal of authorities to engage in civilized debate on crucial issues in the manner they anticipated, protesters sought to find explanations for what appeared to them to be a breakdown in democratic processes. What that meant for some was a move from procedural politics to ideology, from deliberative rhetoric to ideological rhetoric in one of its various forms.
It should be stressed that those who turned to ideology remained a minority among the protesters, albeit in the words of Richard Nixon, a very "vocal minority." Most who protested various policies or injustices remained within the perimeters of procedural politics and deliberative rhetoric. However, in many circles, those who cast their lots with ideologues were viewed as the majority, and some even believed that if they were not now a majority among protesters, they soon would be.
Insurgent ideologues among the protesters gained such publicity or notoriety because they represented a different way of thinking