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American Rage
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Book description

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, Webster ultimately 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.


'In American Rage, Webster cogently shows both the potential benefits of anger for democracy - anger gets people interested and involved in politics - but also the real costs, such as lower trust in government. By looking at how generalized anger toward the political system and out-partisans can maintain and deepen polarization, the book is a welcome addition to the literature on polarization and emotions.'

Shana Gadarian - Syracuse University

'American Rage is an important read for anyone interested in understanding Americans’ disdain for government and political adversaries. Using a rich array of data, Webster convincingly demonstrates that the political consequences of anger are severe from decreasing people’s trust in government to weakening their commitment to democratic norms.'

Antoine Banks - University of Maryland

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  • 1 - The Rise of Anger in the American Public
    pp 1-27


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