Barack Obama was re-elected for a second term as president of the United States on November the 7th 2012, by beating Mitt Romney despite dissatisfaction with the way he handled the economy. Before this particular outcome of the election, Obama made some remarks at a Campaign Event in Denver, Colorado. These remarks were among many other initiatives established by Obama to persuade the American people to vote for him. In order to reach this goal, he uses modes of appeal and rhetorical features, which I will clarify and shed light over in my rhetorical analysis of his speech by providing examples and explanations.
Obama begins his speech with Pathos to engage his audience and catch their attention, which he does with humour, when he tells about his 48-hour tour: “I can’t tell you who I’m voting for. (Laughter. ) It’s a secret ballot. But Michelle says she ‘voted’ for me. (Applause. ) That’s what she said (p1). ” This is an example of pathos because he illustrates a grave matter with humour and affection. He illustrates a wife supporting her husband. Obama thus achieve to picture himself as “ordinary” on equal footing as his audience.
The quote is also an example of ethos, because he creates a positive illustration of their marriage, and a married man with a successful family reflects credibility. By evoking this sentiment in his audience, Obama manage to engage his audience and making himself trustworthy. He continues to use humour later on, when he talks about Obamacare and Romnesia: “If you feel any symptoms coming on (…) Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions. We can make you well. There’s a cure (p2). ” The appeal to pathos is evident, because he makes the audience laugh at the expense of Romney.
By appealing to this feeling, he achieves to discredit Romney and his ideas. Besides humour he awakes an additional sentiment in his audience. The linguistic feature polyptoton helps Obama illustrate the American spirit as strong and unbreakable. We see this in his speech, when he speaks about the tough years that the Americans have gone through: “Colorado, we have been through some tough years. But the Americans are always tougher (p5)” This is an example of polyptoton because words derived from the same root are repeated (tough and tougher).
Obama thereby evokes a sentiment of national pride in his audience engaging them to believe, to believe in the Americans and to believe that they can handle and turn these tough years into the better. Thereby he gains solidarity. Obama continues his speech, talking about the “strong” Americans, which he does with a lot of pathos-laden phrases to help him engage his audience and persuade them to agree with him. This is evident in his speech when he tells about how tough the Americans are: “We always bounce back, because we pull together, because we look after one another.
We don’t turn back. We go forward. We don’t leave anybody behind – we pull them up with us (p5). ” The appeal to pathos is clear in this quote, because he inspires and awakes a strong patriotic and solidary feeling in you, just like the above-mentioned polyptoton. By appealing to this sentiment, Obama succeeds in seducing and persuading the recipients of his speech to agree with him. The linguistic feature antithesis and the topological feature is also evident in this quote, because he provides different contrasts by using sentences with opposite meaning (turn back – go forward.
We don’t leave anybody behind – we pull them up with us). Obama thereby achieves to make the emotions stronger, and this helps him to convey his message by clarifying his position. Furthermore the linguistic features anaphora and epistrophe, which occurs later in his speech, helps Obama create a pleasant flow when he speaks. We see this in his speech, when he ask his audience to work with him and help him winning the election: “And if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves with me, if you’re willing to work with me and knock some doors with me, make some phone calls with me, we’re going to win Colorado again.
We’re going to win this election (p5). ” Anaphora is clear here because: If you’re willing and we’re going are both phrases repeated at the beginning of successive clauses. This is also an example of epistrophe because with me is repeated at the end of sequential clauses. Obama thereby achieves to create a pleasurable flow – almost like a poem. By using anaphora and epistrophe at the same time, he manages to catch the complete awareness of his audience. After this he follows up and ends his speech with a last statement. With this sentence, Obama attempts to create a strong ethos.
We see this in his speech, when he speaks about bringing the Unites States of America back in front of the frontline: “We’re going to finish what we started. We’ll remind the world why the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth (p5). ” The message of this particular quote is almost identical with the linguistic feature hyperbole used earlier in his speech: “You can choose to turn back the clock 50 years for women and immigrants and gays, or in this election, you can stand up for that basic principle that we are all created equal. This is an example of hyperbole because 50 years is a strong exaggeration. He could just as well have used 8 years instead. Thus he makes the audience believe, that equality will be challenged if Romney is chosen as the next President. By saying We’ll remind the world, he is actually saying, that the United States of America is not the greatest nation at the moment, which tells us that the country itself is in problems. Therefore he is basically also saying that if he were the one to be chosen as president for a second term, he can bring the country back in front and solve these problems.
Thus he achieves reliance with his last message, and thereby persuades the audience to agree with him and perhaps to make a vote for him, which is the purpose and goal with his entire speech and election campaign. Something I believe he managed well, was using modes of appeal and tropes and schemes in order to win the crowd and their trust and faith, which perhaps is the most important values, if you want to be chosen as President in the United States of America.