An effective piece of rhetoric persuades its audience to reconsider a held position or even to buy new sets of beliefs and thus reaches beyond the target audience reuniting the opposing sides of a given argument under common set of beliefs while making sure that it never wavers from its original intention of persuasion. A speech is described as a collection of words that are bound together to create argument and utilizes medium masterfully and powerfully to reach out to entire human race. Barrack Obama’s victory speech is rhetoric piece of work that uses challenges, direct appeals, and narrations, seek to celebrating victory, reaffirm common bonds, as well as urge opponents to embrace his platform and in so doing validate his election to presidency.
The barrack Obama’s speech victory in Chicago following his victory in the United States election is a fine example of rhetorical brilliance that played a critical role in enabling him defeat John McCain and Hillary Clinton. In his victorious election speech Obama turned the campaign vinegar into national balm and moved from local conquest to national triumph and to achieve this Obama cunningly used this necessity to expand epically through the American space and time and behind his speech wandered the ghost of Lincoln first inaugural moving anxiously over every living heart as well as hearthstone all over the entire country. The Obama’s victory speech served to illustrate mastery on what is referred by scholars as rhetorical situation which is merely a way of referring to an effective performance and recognition in lieu of the specific circumstance that are at hand.
The speech is very powerful and the message is equally compelling and this is true considering the state of the modern politics as well as the hangover that was left behind by the Bush regime. In his victory speech Obama uses the right combination of the emotional appeal or the pathos, arguments based on example or logos and finally based on credibility or the ethos to encapsulate the victory as well as to promulgate the themes of his campaign. Obama contrasts decisiveness, cynicism, disillusionment, bitterness, crony-capitalism, anger and political favoritism with a common purpose, common cause, change, courage, hope, populism and power of underdog to prevail.
In order to ensure that he connects with his audience Obama in his speech paints vice president as an ordinary man saying ‘we are just like you’ and in saying so he manages to connect with the listeners while at same time creating tension by not naming the person until the end. This is evident in the following excerpt of his speech ‘I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden’.
In addition to that he also appeals to the audience when he perfectly executes the invitation for the crowd to applaud Biden and Michel by first identifying the person, then praise and finally make the naming. Naming the person earlier tends to confuse the audience as to when and if they are supposed to applaud. Also by him mentioning of the puppy fro children serve to depict him as a thoroughly normal, kindly father and a family man thus he succeeds in connecting with the listeners as he is able to evoke sympathy by mention the death of his grandmother, as well as the feel good puppy factor and finally being grateful shows that he is a humble person.
In his speech Osama use challenge at the end of his speech and in this case he challenges American people to be accountable for the society as a whole an dif they find it lacking to doing anything about it, “let us ask ourselves-if our children should live to see the next century…what change will they see? What progress will we have made?”. This challenge plays of the pathos, emotional; connection that parents have with their children as well as the struggle for the feeling of meaningful accomplishment. The use of these challenges intends to turning words into actions and juxtaposing the audience under the common them of American society thus glorifying and urging for a change forcing them to implement the ideas stated in the speech and later into their own lives.
Similarly as a challenge relies on emotional ties of the target audience so is narration which also helps to appealing the audience by relying on empathy or sympathy in emphasizing a point. In Obama’s victory speech, narration is evident after both the victory as well as in the persuasion portions of the speech helping creation of an emotional climax. The story of Ann Nixon Cooper, who is a106 year old African American woman, serve as a medium to recounting of the important or inspirational points of the American history thus creating a nostalgia and pride amongst those listening. Therefore, allusion becomes a powerful device, as in his speech Obama assumes that those listening have a basic knowledge of the American history and this assumption allows him to be vague in the making of his references, which compels the audience to fill in the key dates, people and circumstances creating a stronger memory.
In Obama’s victory speech just before his direct appeal to his opponents he once again uses parallelism to remind Americans about yet another bond that is the American Dream, “…to join in the work of remaking this nation…block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.” This parallelism uses repetition for the purpose of emphasis and assumes that the audience has prior knowledge of the American Dream of Upward Mobility, implying that through hard work, a laborer can become the manager and the manager become the CEO. He correlates this to the grassroots of his campaign, thereby portraying himself as an example of the American success story.
In context of persuasion nothing is riskier than the personal appeal by an orator to his audience. This relies completely on ethos or the power of his character, as an argument. However, Obama in his victory speech uses direct appeal effectively by first showing respect for the opposing sides and their views, “the banner of the Republican Party to the White House- a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty and national unity.” Thus by acknowledging the opposing party’s core philosophies in a positive point of view, he shows himself as an objective and capable of rationalizing his argument in the universal terms, away from party bias. This effective use of direct appeal also serve has an added benefit crucial to every politician; it helps improve his image as a leader of all the people and strengthens his reliability with that particular audience for the future addresses.
Obama’s victory speech is very successful because it relieves any tension that the American people may still have about his competency to being president. His ability to speak well is associated with his ability to lead. By being stern with foreign powers and nurturing to his own people he effectively portrays the role of the father the subliminal symbol of power, and he did so with words. The power of persuasion is the power to change, and that change can represent everything from an opinion to an image.