Why Does the 2020 Presidential Campaign Feel So Loud and Angry?

In an Age of 'Post-Rhetorical' Politics, Candidates Now Compete, Rather Than Cooperate, With the Media

Presidential candidates have long found ways to take their messages directly to the voters, by avoiding the filter of press coverage. But today, candidates have gone steps further, turning themselves into direct competitors with the media that cover them and creating an increasingly bitter conflict between the press and politicians.

The competition also explains why voters are suddenly seeing so many new approaches to political communications—approaches that can make politics feel both more democratic, and more chaotic. We are watching the end of one kind of political campaigning and …

How Three Texas Newspapers Manufactured Three Competing Images of Immigrants | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

How Three Texas Newspapers Manufactured Three Competing Images of Immigrants

In Depression-Era San Antonio, Polarized Portraits of Mexicans Appealed to the Biases of Readers

In August 1930, an editorial writer for the largest newspaper chain on Earth proclaimed: “THE FARMER rids his barn of rats, his hen-house of weasels … the government of the …

Beware the Propagandist You See In the Mirror | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Beware the Propagandist You See In the Mirror

Americans Are Overwhelmed by Persuasive Messaging, Even as They Bombard Each Other

On any given day, Americans are inundated with persuasive messages, otherwise known as propaganda, from the time they wake up until the time they go to sleep. These messages—their positive …

When Racist Language Spreads, Immigrants Suffer—and the Social Fabric Frays

The Recurring Backlash Against U.S. Newcomers Triggers Threats to Health, Safety, and the Rule of Law

If immigrant children are exposed to racist hate speech, how will it affect their mental and physical health? If elected officials indulge in immigrant-bashing rhetoric, could they embolden white supremacists …

When Paranoid Rhetoric and Falsehoods Prevail, Public Trust Crumbles

A Government That Undercuts Peoples' Faith May Undermine Its Own Legitimacy

“Nothing is more surprising,” wrote David Hume in his 1758 First Principles of Government, than “the easiness with which the many are governed by the few.”

What explains this surprising …

The Rhetorical Power of Always Being at War

American Presidents Both Overstate Constant Threat and Understate the Human Cost as a Way to Ensure Faith in Government

An essential goal of American presidential rhetoric is to keep the public thinking the nation is constantly under threat, and thus reliably deferential to their ostensibly protective government.

You can …