Title

Rhetoric and Public Culture: Partisan Politics Feels the Bern

Presenter

Evan Romasco-Kelly

Abstract

In September 2015, Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders gave a speech at Liberty University, the evangelical school founded in 1971 by conservative televangelist Jerry Falwell. Unlike the crowds of avid supporters that attended Sanders’ rallies in Portland or Seattle, the audience at Liberty University was much more skeptical. I show how Sanders employed two key rhetorical strategies to find common ground with the Liberty University community. First, he focused the attention of his primarily Christian audience on religious identity rather than on partisan political views. Second, he framed his liberal political platform in terms that would appeal to Christians, namely, the language of the Bible, morality, and justice. Finally, I discuss the implications of this analysis on broader partisan political discourse in the United States.

Faculty Sponsor

Heather Hayes

Sponsor Department/Programs

Rhetoric Studies

Tracks

Rhetorical Studies: Public Culture

Terms of Use

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Location

Reid G02

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

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Apr 19th, 2:30 PM Apr 19th, 2:45 PM

Rhetoric and Public Culture: Partisan Politics Feels the Bern

Reid G02

In September 2015, Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders gave a speech at Liberty University, the evangelical school founded in 1971 by conservative televangelist Jerry Falwell. Unlike the crowds of avid supporters that attended Sanders’ rallies in Portland or Seattle, the audience at Liberty University was much more skeptical. I show how Sanders employed two key rhetorical strategies to find common ground with the Liberty University community. First, he focused the attention of his primarily Christian audience on religious identity rather than on partisan political views. Second, he framed his liberal political platform in terms that would appeal to Christians, namely, the language of the Bible, morality, and justice. Finally, I discuss the implications of this analysis on broader partisan political discourse in the United States.

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