American Rage: How Anger Shapes our Politics

Steven Webster
Publication Date
August 27, 2020
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American Rage: How Anger Shapres our Politics

Steven Webster

American Rage argues that anger is the central emotion governing contemporary US politics, with powerful, deleterious effects. Tracing the developments that have given rise to a culture of anger in the mass public, the book sheds new light on both public opinion and voting behavior. Steven W. Webster skillfully uses a combination of novel datasets, new measures of anger, and a series of experiments to show how anger causes citizens to lose trust in the national government and weaken in their commitment to democratic norms and values. Despite these negative consequences, political elites strategically seek to elicit anger among their supporters. Presenting compelling evidence, Websterultimately concludes that elites engage in this behavior because voter anger leads to voter loyalty. When voters are angry, they are more likely to vote for their party's slate of candidates at multiple levels of the federal electoral system.