To Follow in the Footsteps of History: A Rhetorical Analysis of President Barack Obama and Donald Trump’s Selected Speeches History has made another round in the United States of America for the past eight years in the White House; can there be affirmation of the next president to fulfill the high expectations? Observing President Barack Obama’s “Acceptance Speech” made in Chicago, IL in comparison to Donald Trump’s “NYC Speech on the Stakes of the Election”, critics have viewed how both candidates struggled in a similar way of gaining the trust of the American people, but with different tactics.
Obama ought his way into America’s hearts pass the bearer of him being African American decent. Likewise, Trump attempts to push pass his lack of political background. Nevertheless, both candidates have shown in their public appearances, ways to break the barriers of the traditional elected presidents in the past. The purpose of this essay is to conduct a rhetorical analysis on President Obama’s Acceptance Speech and Donald Trump’s speech in New York in regards to their usage of ethos, pathos, and logos to gain the appeal of the American people. Barack Obama has served the country as the 44th President of the United States of America.
He had the privilege of being one of the biggest historical changes this nation has ever seen by obtaining the title of the first African American President. Moreover, Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, August 4, 1961. He received his education at Occidental College, Los Angeles, California and earned a B. A. in 1983 from Columbia University, New York City. Shortly after, he began to work as a community organizer in Chicago, Illinois. Also, he gained the opportunity to study law at Harvard University, where he established the title of the first African American president of he Harvard Law Review, and received J.
D. in 1991. In 2004-2008 Obama served as the Democratic Senate of the United States. Directly after his years in the senate office, Obama decided to run for the presidential election in 2008. Through the ups and downs of his campaign Obama became victorious in the election. Preceding his victory, he gave an acceptance speech held at Grand Park, Chicago, Illinois on November 4, 2008 where about 280,000 people were in attendance. The speech consisted of his greetings and acknowledgements to everyone who supported his including his family, his campaign team and even is opponents.
The speech also included issues that the U. S were facing and the possibility of change through his terms in the White House, with realistic goals in mind. Obama administered a history lesson of the evolved American culture throughout the years of time as a reminder that change was always possible. In contrast, Donald Trump is currently the Republican candidate for the 2016 presidential election. Though he lacks the decorated political background that Obama has achieved, he is well respected in the Business world of America.
Trump graduated from Wharton School of Finance and hroughout his years he started his own business company and became the Chairman and President of “The Trump Organization”. Also, Trump is the author of “The Art of the Deal” as well as 15 other bestseller books. Being a man of many responsibilities, Trump is the co-producer of the world known reality show, “The Apprentice”. Throughout his campaign for the 2016 presidential election, Trump has given speech across the country to help citizens understand why he should be the next president.
On June 22, 2016 he gave a speech in New York City, New York. The speech consisted of information of how poor the U. S economy is and plans of how to make it better. In this speech, Trump also made attacks on Hillary Clinton and her questionable actions while under the administration of her husband as well as will serving the country as the Secretary of State. Aristotle, a Greek philosopher, defined the techniques used to persuade the audience into participating in a desired action through ethos, pathos and logos.
Ethos is the author or speaker’s way of appealing their argument to the audience through credibility. If the speaker provides enough information about themselves and or uses information spoke/written by nother person with high credibility that supports their argument, then the audience will more likely adhere to the speaker’s initiative. Pathos is the appealing their argument to the audience through emotions. Aristotle believes that when the speaker gains the emotional support of their audience then the audience is more susceptible to follow in command to what the speaker is saying.
For example, if a producer wants the consumer to buy a product, they will promote it in such a way that makes them feel like they have to have the product they are selling through emotional appeal. Logos is the author/speaker’s way of appealing their argument to the audience through purpose and facts. This is where the speaker or writer uses facts and statistics which pulls the audience in on what how important the speaker’s issue is. When viewing both candidates’ speeches, a rhetorical analysis can be made by observing their uses of Aristotle’s appeal theory of ethos, pathos and logos.
The use of ethos is shown throughout both candidates’ speeches to gain a credible approach by their audience. In Obama’s “Acceptance Speech” he uses both experience and quotes to adhere to his listeners. In is speech he says, “We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston” (Obama). Through this insightful quote Obama is expressing to his audience that he and his campaign team worked hard for the victory that was well deserved.
The experience he had throughout his campaign proves his to be ithor/speaker’s way of credible for the job that he will endure in the month that followed surely after. He also ensures his audience that this ampaign was not handed to him, but he had to work extra hard to get the success that he received. Another example of Obama’s use of ethos was a reference he made when stating, “As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection” (Obama). Lincoln was one of the Founding Fathers that was known for a great presidency.
In most peoples’ eyes he was the greatest. The quote mentioned by Obama was one that proved that even though there may be differences throughout the nation etween Democrats and Republicans, but it is important to stay together. Yet another quote was made from Abraham Lincoln, who was the nations’ 16th president. Obama states, “.. from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth” (Obama), which came from the infamous Gettysburg Address.
In contrast, Trump’s appeal to ethos in the speech he gave in New York, showed a different approach than Obama. Trump says, “I started off in Brooklyn New York… with a small oan and built a business worth over 10 billion dollars. I have always had a talent for building businesses and creating jobs” (Trump). Trump announces this in the beginning of his speech to ensure to his audience that he is a success for man. The effect of his success should be the very reason why he should be the next president, because he knowns the economy is bad and by him being talented in creating jobs, he will in turn do that for the entire country.
Another example of his use of ethos is when he states, “When I see the crumbling roads and bridges, or the dilapidated airports, or the factories moving verseas to Mexico, or to other countries, I know these problems call all be fixed, but not by Hillary Clinton – only by me” (Trump), ensuring the audience that his opponent is too weak to deal with the major problems happening in the country He uses himself as the only option in making the changes that the country desperately needs in order to get the best results.
Lastly, he uses ethos by quoting Bernie Sanders in regards to, in his opinion, a dysfunctional Hilary Clinton. He calls Clinton a “world class liar” and needed to use a reference to back up his statement. By quoting from his other opponent, Sanders, he has made the audience visualize how Sanders has the same view as Trump even though they are on different sides of the election race. The difference between both candidates are how they approach their audience. Obama uses quotes someone that was a respected American, while Trump uses his own success and the failure of his opponent to ensure that he is credible for the job.
The use of pathos is shown throughout both candidates’ speeches to gain emotional approach so their audience will either sympathize with them or feel the mportance of their message. Obama’s use of pathos in his Acceptance speech includes an exert of him saying, “But above all I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you” (Obama). When he says this, Obama is assuring that his audience know that his winning of the election is not just a small celebration for him.
He explained that it was a change that all of America had to undergo therefore his gain is also the American peoples’ gain as well. In addition to his appeal, he says, “There are mothers and fathers who will lie wake after the children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage or pay their doctors’ bills or save enough for their child’s college education” (Obama). It is clear in this quote that Obama is speaking to the people in his audience that have children of their own. He uses a situation that almost every parent is a victim of and thus gains their sympathy in his acknowledgment of their struggle.
Towards the end of his speech, Obama shares with the crowd the Ann Nixon Cooper Story. It is comprised of a woman who was an African American citizen that voted at the age 106. He shared that she was a itness to the many changes made to America, from the strenuous wars to the oppression of segregation, through the great depression era, along with the new laws made for women to gain voting rights and the Civil Rights Movement. Moreover, this story told in hopes to touch each America’s heart, no matter their race, because America has endured so much to be in the place that they were in at that very moment.
In comparison, Trump’s appeal to pathos was observed as a little different. In his infamous slogan Trump says. “We’re going to put out America first. We’re going to make America good again” (Trump). Within this quote lies the assumption that America is not as great as it once was. He ensures his audience (preferably the white ones) that once America is put before all other countries, it will be the best it’s ever been. Nevertheless, the audience gets rallied up of the idea of American’s being put first.
Following a couple more statements, Trump approaches the crowd with a story, similar to Obama’s story telling tactic, but with a different motive. He uses his story to place an attack on his opponent, Hillary Clinton. He tells of a woman that lost her family from an attack that was said to be under the responsibility of Clinton. He assures the crowd that she neglected her responsibility and in turn he quoted the woman response by saying, “I want the whole world to know it: she [Clinton] lied to my face, and you know this person cannot be president” (Trump).
This opens the eyes and hearts of the American voters to see how much the woman suffered and how she was betrayed and deceived by the authorities of Clinton. Again, it is observed how Trump uses his opponent weakness to rise himself above her “misjudged” character. Whereas, Obama uses his supporters as an example of the level of passion he shares with his country. The use of logos is shown throughout both candidates’ speeches to assure the audience with purpose and facts that support their political campaign.
Though Obama does not exhibit much statistical data in his Acceptance speech, he enables logos through explaining his purpose throughout the speech. In his opening lines Obama says, “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer” (Obama). In this passage, Obama is directing his statement to the people who did not follow the vision that he had for the country.
He gives the audience the main purposes of his speech which was to ensure to them that change was possible. Obama also stated at, “When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can” (Obama), when telling America of the Ann Cooper Nixon Story. The quote included facts of one of the major uplifts of America’s economy, ensure that if it happened once, it could indefinitely happen another time.
Taking a look at Trump’s speech, he uses a lot more statistical references when addressing the appeal to logos. He uses his logical approach solely to judge the morality of the decision Clinton has made in the duration of her political career. He states, “Hilary Clinton’s support for violent regime change in Syria has thrown the country into one of the bloodies civil wars anyone has ever seen-while giving ISIS a launching pad for terrorism against the West” Trump expresses this with his audience because it a fact that proves Clinton to me unfit as the next president.
A person that has terrible control over foreign affairs should be questioned on their effectiveness in the Oval Office, as Trump wants his audience to conclude. Trump also states, “Hilary Clinton’s State Department approved the transfer of 20% of America’s uranium holdings to Russia, while 9 investors in the deal funneled $145 million to the Clinton Foundation” (Trump), which expresses another viable example of why Clinton should not be the choose of the people because of her poor decisions. This quote statically shows how Clinton receive money for her mistakes that creates opportunity for her, but problems for the rest of the country.