© 2019

Three Frames of Modern Politics

Self, Others, and Institutions


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-vii
  2. Daniel J. McCool
    Pages 1-17
  3. Daniel J. McCool
    Pages 19-45
  4. Daniel J. McCool
    Pages 47-77
  5. Daniel J. McCool
    Pages 101-127
  6. Daniel J. McCool
    Pages 129-153
  7. Daniel J. McCool
    Pages 155-177

About this book


This book examines the centrality of personality in political discourse since the Enlightenment. It considers the theory known as the “politics of authenticity,” its counter-discourses, and the ways in which it has degraded or enriched our collective political life. Using three models of politics to understand our current political predicaments—the politics of authenticity, politics of theatricality, and institutional politics—this volume argues that we need to envision a politics based on the best parts of each model: one that incorporates the ability for the oppressed to speak outside the institutional mechanisms of government. With the continuing erosion of public faith in political institutions, we have instead been left with the most troubling aspects of both authentic and theatrical politics. By exploring recent events and trends in American politics, this book ultimately makes a normative case that we need to balance demands for authenticity in our political actors with the equally necessary political values of deliberative institutions, processes, and decorum.


Arendt Thoreau politics of authenticity Lincoln Rousseau Authenticity Politics of Theatricality John Adams Foucault William James Erving Goffman Machiavelli Edmund Burke Nietzsche George Kateb Walt Whitman

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Framingham State UniversityFramingham, MAUSA

About the authors

Daniel J. McCool is a Visiting Lecturer at Framingham State University, USA. 

Bibliographic information


“At a time when our democracy seems paralyzed with feelings of disillusionment and helplessness, Dr. McCool draws upon an impressively wide range of political thinkers to help us understand the complex tension between authenticity and theatricality in politics. His analysis reminds one of the skill of an expert physician diagnosing a patient’s illness and prescribing the cure for our ailing body politic:  the importance of institutional politics and the need to strike a new balance between institutionalism and authenticity.  This is a book that should be read by every person concerned about the future of democracy in America.” (David Smailes, Associate Professor, Political Science, Framingham State University, USA)

“McCool's timely interrogation of political personality and authenticity gives his readers a fresh viewpoint on a critical component of democracy that can be either its greatest asset or its premature undoing. In a moment when political personality has come to dominate and threaten American democracy, his argument reveals a way forward.” (Joanna Tice Jen, Political Science Faculty, Las Positas College, USA)