Developments in the democratic theory of representation and deliberation enable renewed consideration of the ancient controversy over the proper place of rhetoric in politics. Rhetoric facilitates the making and hearing of representation claims spanning subjects and audiences divided in their commitments and dispositions. Deliberative democracy requires a deliberative system with multiple components whose linkage often needs rhetoric. Appreciation of these aspects of democracy exposes the limitations of categorical tests for the admissibility of particular sorts of rhetoric. Prioritization of bridging over bonding rhetoric is a step in the right direction, while sometimes producing misleading results. A better systemic test asks whether or not rhetoric promotes an effective deliberative system linking competent and reflective actors.