Presidential Campaign: Barack Obama’s Message and Its Power Essay
American politicians have used secrets of rhetoric since the first elections that took place over two centuries ago. All American presidents employed the strategies ancient philosophers developed and described, which helped many of them to achieve their goals and receive the public support (Budzynska-Daca & Botwina 39). Barack Obama is one of the politicians who effectively uses rhetorical tools, which contributes to his popularity among Americans or even worldwide. This paper includes a brief analysis of one of Obama’s election advertisements.
The Goal of Persuasion
Sometimes candidates focus on the negative aspects of their opponents’ campaigns to win the race. In this ad, however, Obama uses an interesting approach. He tries to destroy the negative message his opponent is trying to create. Obama mentions ads taking his “words about small business out of context” and explains what he believes in (“2012 Obama vs. Romney”). Thus, instead of the attempt to increase taxes, it is clear that the candidate wants to support the development of small business through investing in training and infrastructure. Obama achieves two goals as he shows his good intentions and reveals the true colors of his opponents who simply try to smear him.
To achieve his persuasive goal, Obama uses ethos. This rhetorical tool focuses on establishing the credibility of the speaker (Fletcher 43). In the ad, there is a caption that introduces a website where more information can be found. It is clear that the candidate is one of the leaders of the movement for the change supported by thousands of Americans (“Our Story”).
There is also a caption that reveals the source of funding. The ad was funded by Obama for America (“2012 Obama vs. Romney”). This creates the credibility as the candidate’s good will is apparent. His fund and his team are responsible for the ad and have paid for it. It is clear that there are no other players who might affect the future President’s decisions.
The use of logos is also effective in this message. Logos are rhetorical tools that focus on reasoning (Wood 24). Obama uses such words as “of course” when talking about small business (“2012 Obama vs. Romney”). This makes the message seem logical as it appears to be (and it is) a universal truth that business people are working hard to contribute to the American economy.
The candidate also uses the metaphor that he and his team will “stand behind” the American small business meaning that they will support its development (“2012 Obama vs. Romney”). It is quite logical that the development of infrastructure and provision of the high-quality training is a way to help businesses develop. This reasoning makes the message strong.
The use of pathos is one of the strongest features of the message. The pathos focus on the development of a specific “bond” with the audience through appealing to particular values (Uhr 255). Obama appeals to small business owners as well as all the Americans in his message. The ad reveals the life of working Americans, and those watching it can easily associate themselves with the people featured.
The candidate also uses a particular language to create the bond. He stresses, “we are all in this together” (“2012 Obama vs. Romney”). The candidate appeals to such values as hard work, cooperation and support of the US government in people’s endeavors. Obama stresses that the country has always supported hardworking people, which also appeals to Americans.
The images provided enhance the message of the candidate, his ethos, pathos, and logos. One of the most conspicuous signs is the value of taxes that help the small business (“2012 Obama vs. Romney”). The ad includes the images of the roads under construction, which is one of the areas funded by the government.
Obama stresses that the government contributes greatly to the development of businesses through creating the infrastructure and investing into technology, science, and education. The message is hidden, but it is easily perceived through the video. Americans understand that they need the government, and they have to pay (even quite high) taxes for the development.
Importantly, the ad focuses on things that were important at that period. People (especially owners of small businesses) were preoccupied with the ideas to increase taxes and increase the role of the government. President Obama advocated the idea of free healthcare, which was not supported by all Americans. At the same time, the ad shows that the candidate tried to make people understand the benefits of his position. Even now, it may seem hazardous that the taxes will increase. However, on second thoughts, the government can help businesses develop through investing in infrastructure, education and so on.
On balance, it is possible to note that the ad in question is a good illustration of the use of ethos, pathos, and logos. The message appeals to the target audience, and the speaker achieves his persuasive goal. The candidate addresses some criticism he has faced and manages to prove that his point is valid. Obama uses the rhetoric tools effectively with a focus on pathos. This strategy is quite important for a politician as it is vital to get the support of the public.
2012 Obama vs. Romney. 2012. Web.
Budzynska-Daca, Agnieszka, and Renata Botwina. “Rhetorical and Performative Analysis.” Persuasive Games in Political and Professional Dialogue. Ed. Răzvan Săftoiu, Maria-Ionela Neagu, and Stanca Măda. Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2015. 39-55. Print.
Fletcher, Jennifer. Teaching Arguments: Rhetorical Comprehension, Critique, and Response. Portland: Stenhouse Publishers, 2015. Print.
Our Story. 2016. Web.
Uhr, John. “Rhetorical and Performative Analysis.” The Oxford Handbook of Political Leadership. Ed. R.A.W. Rhodes and Paul Hart. New York: OUP Oxford, 2014. 253-267. Print.
Wood, Julia T. Communication Mosaic: An Introduction to the Field of Communication. Boston: Cengage Learning, 2016. Print.
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