Pathos: NPR’s “Campaign Trail Tears”


Studying pathos, one of the three modes of persuasion that deals with the emotions of the audience, allows us to more carefully examine public displays of emotions.  NPR’s Elise Hu wrote an amazing article called “Campaign Trail Tears: The Changing Politics of Crying.”  Hu examines the powerful emotion of sadness – to the point of tears – and tracks crying and politics through the past 40 years.

From ’70s and ’80s presidential candidates Muskie and Schroeder to Bob Dole in the ’90s, Hu explains that crying was formerly seen as a weakness and/or deception.

These days, Hu cites Hillary Clinton, President Obama, and 2012 Republican presidential candidate hopefuls Herman Cain and Rick Santorum in arguing that our views on pathos have changed; we don’t mind seeing tears from our political leaders.

Why do you think it’s okay for politicians to cry when showing such emotion was once considered taboo?


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