In the recent elections, the rhetorical styles of the two major candidates were often juxtaposed, seen as representative of their broader aptitude for politics. And, there is no doubt that eloquent rhetoric has long been a mainstay of the democratic political system. Here at the Review, we selected Rhetoric as our guiding theme this month because we wanted to explore its changing paradigms, the ways in which its norms have evolved with the times, birthing a radically new political landscape. However, we did not wish to restrict ourselves exclusively to retellings of the events of the elections, which have been exhaustively covered elsewhere. We instead delved into the nature of rhetoric itself, its applications, and its possibilities as we move forward.
From Dylan Fauss, we have a balanced defense of so-called “hashtag activism,” for its novel ability to mobilize the masses, and for its spontaneous and liberated generation of new linguistic significations, opposed to hegemonic norms. Mary Akdemir contributed a piece, entitled “Dirty Hands and Filthy Words,” on the value of vulgarity even in the seemingly elevated realm of political discourse. In the era of the “nasty woman,” her observations are particularly timely. For an inside perspective on how we arrived at what’s been called a “post-truth” age, we have a diagnostic followed by a suggested plan of action from Séamus McGuigan. Gabriella Sanchez-Corea critiques one possible political tool, that of humor, and concludes in her article that America needs a new form of satire to adequately challenge entrenched institutions. Jokes, like profanity in Akdemir’s article, will clearly be crucial in the coming years. Anya Urcoyo, writing on the “Linguistic Dehumanization of the Immigrant,” shows us how seemingly innocuous legal and verbal categories have contributed to the marginalization of our most vulnerable neighbors. Ultimately, though we at the Review can offer no panacea to the current rhetorical crisis which has been slowly building, we hope that we have offered you, our readers, the tools to implement your own solutions. By examining rhetoric, we examine the very nature of our own cognition, the manner in which we rationalize our world. America is in need of rationality, and if we have contributed, even negligibly, we have succeeded.