Doctoral student, Marnie Lawler McDonough, was recently published in the March 2018 edition of the Communication Quarterly. The article, titled “The Evolution of Demagoguery: An Updated Understanding of Demagogic Rhetoric as Interactive and Ongoing”, discusses the use of demagogic rhetoric in the 2016 presidential election debates and argues for the expansion of study on the topic of demagoguery.
“As scholars, media, and the U.S. public struggled to make sense of what was happening to presidential rhetoric during the 2016 campaign cycle, the word demagogue quickly became part of the vernacular. Our current understanding of demagoguery does not adequately explain what audiences are witnessing in high-profile discourse as existing scholarship on demagogic rhetoric does not account for its nature as shifting and evolving. I argue that rhetorical scholarship—and society at large—would benefit from a renewed exploration of the rhetoric of demagoguery, as the current mainstreaming and pervasiveness of demagogic rhetoric requires an updated understanding that considers evolving and ongoing situations. Utilizing the transcripts of the three 2016 presidential debates, I illustrate the importance of examining texts that evolve over time, are interactive, and are part of an ongoing campaign or exchange as rhetorical scholars seek to expand our conception of the rhetoric of demagoguery.”