The Blogora: The Rhetoric Society of America


Our Republic

Submitted by Jim Aune on January 17, 2009 - 1:11pm

Ever since the "republican revival" of the 1980's in law and political theory, I've been puzzling over the practical, rhetoric use of the term in US politics. This graph confirms its sudden disappearance from political rhetoric after the New Deal. Does anyone know who's doing this site Speechwars? It's really a great resource. I still wonder, though, how it was exactly that "democracy" finally replaced "republicanism" in our public discourse. As I've written elsewhere, democratic trends in the 20th century (direct election of senators, the rise of initiative and referendum) were accompanied by "republicanizing" trends such as the creation of the Fed, the dramatic increase of judicial review, and the concentration of power at the national rather than state and local level. These matters of institutional design were mediated by rhetoric, and I don't think we still understand how that rhetoric worked.

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