Invitational Rhetoric

I view invitational rhetoric as the very foundations of democracy and the driving force of true progress. Thoreau said, “Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it.” Steven Stills refines this notion: “When everyone’s talking and no one is listening, how can we decide?” Listening is an absolutely necessary element of rhetorical discourse. If determinations are based around the assumptions or conjectures of a select few, those decisions are very likely to be misinformed and lead to confusion. If a field of equality and mutual respect as regards subjective belief were to be achieved, as espoused by invitational rhetoric, democracy and self-rule may follow.

From my perspective, rhetorical discussion like this emphasizes a breed of persuasion based not in the potentially one-sided, ego-driven nature of direct “traditional rhetoric,” but in the quest for a sort of local truth to be determined by the participants of the discussion. In an equal forum, those involved may reveal their own subjective motives or reasonings, opening them to their peers for evaluation and analysis. Theoretically, the presentation of opposing ideas on an equal playing field permits fully-informed, objective decision-making. Ideally, the parties involved are able to sympathize with one another and reach a common conclusion, or local truth.

With a basis in reasoned, persuasive defense of subjective opinion and belief, I see no discourse more moral than invitational rhetoric.


-Trent Rommel


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