The contemporary debate on democracy shows two points of view: the “deliberative” one and the “agonistic” one. The first one is related to the classical tradition that considers Habermas as its reference point. It emphasizes the role of rational deliberation as a means to produce a legitimate and binding consensus. In contrast, the second one draws its inspiration from C. Schmitt, and considers conflict and disagreement as unavoidable conditions of democratic life. Despite their obvious differences, these two theoretical models have a conception of rhetoric in common that is subjected to, or at least excluded from, the full exercise of argumentative rationality. We propose an interpretation of rhetoric that includes the logical-argumentative dimension in the rhetorical domain is possible. In this way, the recovery of rhetoric, considered both as a practice and as a theory of persuasive speech, may shed light on the role of discursive processes in building consensus, and thus may allow a revision of the dialectical tension between the pairs of concepts that the debate tends to focus on: normative/descriptive, rational/irrational, agreement/conflict.