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The coarsening of our political rhetoric and the consequences for our politics

The language of violence is now regularly employed by politicians. Recently, a handful of Republican lawmakers have stirred outrage with violent, racist and sometimes Islamophobic comments.

On this episode of River to River, Ben Kieffer turns to several scholars in political communication to get their thoughts. In this podcast, Donna Hoffman of the University of Northern Iowa, Kyla Hedding of the University of Iowa and presidential historian Tim Walch talk about political rhetoric, its connection to violence and how concerned we should be about the venomous rhetoric we're seeing today.


  • Tim Walch, director emeritus of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum
  • Kylah Hedding, assistant professor of political communication, University of Iowa
  • Donna Hoffman, professor of political science, University of Northern Iowa
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Matthew was a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa