Symmetrical Communication in Politics Interactions Between Presidents and Primary Supporters

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Baillie, Hannah J.
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Mount Saint Vincent University
A politician’s primary supporters are a dominant force in democratic societies. They are the people who frequently engage in two-way dialogue with their leaders and have a significant impact on the political proceedings in their country. In the United States, the President’s interactions with his primary supporters offers a prime example of Grunig’s theory of symmetrical communication; wherein an organization considers their own interests, as well as those of the public, before making decisions. This action fosters the development of a strong relationship between the two parties. While there is evidence to suggest that symmetrical communication has been widely used in politics for quite some time, the steps taken to achieve it have changed throughout the course of its implementation (Swanson & Mancini, 1996). For example, one could look at the approaches taken by Jimmy Carter during his presidency (1977-1981) and compare them to Donald Trump’s strategies (2016-present). This comparison highlights the differences in communication brought by new technology, contrasting demographics, and new perspectives on acceptable channels of communication. Together, these factors have contributed to rapid changes in symmetrical communication between 1977 and 2018.
Symmetrical Communication, United States Presidents