rhetoric The art of using language so as to persuade or influence others. Although rhetoric is apparently opposed to the philosophical ideal of the exact pursuit of truth, their reconciliation has sometimes seemed desirable, most notably to Cicero. If one thinks of philosophy as a matter of argument rather than doctrine, as the academic sceptics did, then rhetoric is good practice in argument. The cultivation of this art was an important study in medieval universities, and began to regain ground with the belief, widely shared in the late 20th century, that all discourse and argument contains a political and persuasive core. See also postmodernism.
The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy. Simon Blackburn. Oxford University Press, 2008. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. David Weller. 3 August 2012 <http://www.oxfordreference.com/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t98.e2716>
Today's politicians -- at least on the state and federal levels -- often engage in rhetoric to make their argument on an issue or idea. Most news articles and blog posts have reported elected officials' and candidates' use of it in a negative light.
To illustrate this point, here are quotes from civic engagement-oriented organizations' stories.
A new FOX News poll throws into relief the effect anti-immigrant rhetoric has had on Latinos' views of the Republican Party and its presumptive presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. ~ Miryam Hazán, Demos, Mar 21, 2012
A moderate rejects all of this. A moderate would reject that this country started as a polyarchy and is now an oligarchy. A moderate talks about the pluralist representative democracy we need to cherish and save. A moderate indulges in the rhetoric of partisanship, wants to be viewed as an independent, acknowledges the basic truisms of the most fashionable ideology all while tacking to the political center in matters of political survival. ~ Larry Allred, Ballot Access News, May 12, 2012
Moreover, it is worth remembering that the Affordable Care Act, despite the harsh rhetoric leveled at it, is actually a fairly moderate incremental reform. Critics paint “Obamacare” as socialist, or worse. But it is a far cry from a “single payer” plan... ~ Keesha Gaskins, Brennan Center for Justice, 06/29/12
Clear away the rhetoric, and what's mainly left are the odd early exit polls (which did show Kerry's lead in Ohio and Florida declining as Election Day went on and which ended up with the current national Bush-Kerry spread), troubling instances of bad electronic voting, and curious--or possibly curious--trends in Florida. ~ David Corn, The Nation, Nov 9, 2004
Of course, Obama’s rhetoric mattered immensely. “Hope” and “change” were tremendously attractive ideas, in part because they were simultaneously amorphous and positive: their almost calculated lack of specificity let each supporter layer his or her own expectations onto them freely. And besides providing supporters a powerful brand under whose umbrella they could gather, the overarching Obama image was a wonderful tool for recruiting friends, neighbors and family. Yes We Can! Come 2009, when lofty campaign rhetoric encountered the meat-grinder of the legislative process, the realities of governing would naturally come as a shock. ~ cpd, e.politics, Aug 11, 2011
Does rhetoric have a value in political discourse, and, if so, has it generally been used properly or has it been too often abused by politicians? Facts are always important, but are they always available?