chapter  5
13 Pages

Rhetoric and Power

The birth of rhetoric was associated with power. If there is a correlation between rhetoric and the maintenance of democracy, then rhetoric’s function is to ensure that argumentation is available in a society and that through argumentation a consensus can be found that will enable action. That power is the power to argue; to marshal words and other modes to make one’s case; to persuade; to defend one’s position; to hammer out a policy and see it through into action. Rhetoric thrives in a democracy, and a democracy needs rhetoric. It is a mutual relationship. Only in autocracies, tyrannies, and other forms of undemocratic governance does rhetoric not find a place-except when those in power seek to impose their will upon others with the distorted use of rhetoric.