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Rhetorical Analysis of Obama’s Victory Speech
On November 6th, 2012, Barack Obama was re-elected as president of the U.S. The following day, Barack Obama held his victory speech. This paper will analyze and comment on an excerpt of that particular victory speech and the key focus of the analysis will be on the rhetorical effects of the speech.
By using many forms of rhetorical tools like Anaphora or Tautology, President Barack Obama manages to give a speech that is full of American ideas of life, like the American Promise, the American Dream and the future. The speech is very similar to the one he did in 2008 at the Democratic Convention, and contains many form of repetition and “between the lines” political views.
In the first couple of paragraphs, Barack Obama deliberately begins his sentences with the same couple of words, e.g. “You’ll hear…”, “We want…” or “That’s…” followed by positive ideas about the USA, Americans or what the future will bring. This is when the first rhetorical tool is used, and Barack Obama uses Anaphora by starting his sentences with the same lines over and over again. This is a great way to make his statements stand out both greater than they are and easier to remember. Moving on from here, Barack Obama talks about the American Spirit, and gives several examples on how the U.S. will have ended the economic crisis and war in a very near future. The future itself is a huge topic in the speech and when talking about it, Barack Obama gently uses as many rhetorical tools as possible to ensure that the message goes through. One of these rhetorical tools is the Apostrophe, for example when he says: “It’s not always a straight line. It’s not always a smooth path.” But also when he is talking about the union straight from the beginning: “It moves forward because of you. It moves forward because…” He talks about the union and the future like they were capable of understanding what was said about them, or if they were alive, and once again, Anaphora is used so all these optimistic ideas will stick.
All in all, this entire speech is made up, using Tautology at its best: When reading the speech, you get the sense that Barack Obama is just repeating himself of how well he and his country have been doing lately and how bright the future is for everything and everyone.
As previous mentioned this speech is very similar to the one he gave in 2008 at the Democratic Convention. One of the paragraphs from the 2008 speech is almost identical to the victory speech four years later. In both of the speeches, Barack Obama talks about how great, wealthy and powerful the U.S. is, but says that it is because of the American Spirit and not the military or the universities. Overall the speeches are very alike. Both of the speeches mention the American Dream and how every American should follow up to their promise and how the U.S. has made it to a point of no return where moving forward is the only option.
If one was to look at the speech and occasion, they’d probably think, that given it is a victory speech to the entire nation, the speech would automatically become neutral. I say this mainly because he, in the speech, addresses everyone: “And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you…” He is talking to every American, Democratic, Republican – even third parties. Even after considering that, Barack Obama still doesn’t keep the speech neutral as I for one thinks that he should. He manages to put some of his political work into it. This quote is taken directly from the speech, when Barack Obama is talking about a girl, who was about to die from leukemia: “[…] had it not been for health care reform passing just a few months before the insurance company was about to stop paying for her care.” This is a very sensitive area for everybody, and Barack Obama uses that to his advantage by using pathos which makes most of the listeners feel pity for the little poor girl, and at the same time happiness because of what Barack Obama has done for the U.S. This actually leads the Americans to ask themselves a rhetorical question: If it wasn’t for Barack Obama’s health care, would this little girl have died then?
Unfortunately, the answer would with most certainty be yes. There are similar points in the speech, not as obvious though, as when he addresses every American, including the homosexual, or gay as they are referred to, which is very much against most of the Republican Americans.
The speech itself is just what you’d expect from any reasonable leader in the U.S It is a speech where the American Dream is the biggest topic, when being optimistic about the
future and then work a little harder is all there is to save the nation. It is a speech that will promise a greater country, and contains a lot of empty promises, just like in the campaigns. Personally, I believe that if Mitt Romney had won the election, the speech he would have given would have been almost identical to this. Of course, there’re some parts where their political views would be different, but all in all I think the essence and rhetorical layout of a victory speech would be pretty much the same. Just like it were back in 1776 when all of this began.