Democracy, Boom or Bust?: A Short Analysis of the Failings of Rugged Individualism

Rhetorical Analysis #1

By Kwesi Billups

In Section 1.2 of City of Rhetoric, David Fleming interprets the most basic assumption that lies at the heart of democratic theory: that every individual member of society possesses an equal role and stake in gluing together what constitutes an informed public, and that such individual “freedoms” only exist within the context of a society that has deemed such rights indispensable (Fleming 19). But, it is Western hubris that supplies the notions of progressivity and linear achievement as the only answers to questions of political participation, development, and social discourse, and that fails to admit the exclusivity laden within America’s most sacred theoretical texts. Fleming argues that not only is the American notion of an ideal “citizen” harmful because of its exclusion of the cultural distinctions that genuinely develop individuality, it is counter to what has been a history defined by conflict on the basis of race, religion, gender, and nationality that has persisted in the United States (22).

Fleming structures Section 1.2 to systematically define and assert his judgments on the failings of America’s utilization of democracy to create a society with a measured superiority to that of its global counterparts, one of the chief failings being that the ideal citizen has been reduced to historically representing “white, middle-class, middle-aged, heterosexual men” (21). Flemings assertions are compelling and demonstrably evident, but lack the in-text support of political theorists that have deduced similar takes on the claims of American political ideology versus the real-world mechanics of how location within a global order defines societal interaction.


Fleming, David. “The Placelessness of Political Theory.” City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America. Suny Press, 19-35.

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