Summary, analysis and interpretation of speech
The political speech “Yes, we can” delivered by Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. on September 4, 2012 deals with creating a new majority in order to cause change in America. On the occasion of Senator Clinton’s victory in New Hampshire Obama speaks to the supporters of his presidency and the American nation. In order to improve the nation’s health care, taxes and status quo, he addresses the current progress and further possibilities.
First, the speaker emphasizes that the political progress for his campaign was struggling. Nevertheless, thanks to the peoples’ votes it is possible to change the current circumstances. Besides, Obama mentions that due to the actions of dedicated and committed people, who participate in politics and have different social and ethnic background, change is happening in America. Consequently, he reacts surprised, but according to Obama the nation can be the new majority if togetherness is enhanced and they face economical and personal challenges. Therefore, any kind of problem such as health care, tax breaks or school education can be solved with the help of the new majority.
In the political speech the speaker intends to create a very convincing image of his visions about change in America by using a committed and motivating tone, a positive and inclusive style and various rhetorical devices (as well as by referring to the American Dream).
First, Obama concentrates on making use of tone. Throughout the speech Obama’s attitude is committed and enthusiastic when talking about the nations’ success (l. 3). Nevertheless, the former president is still serious since he represents an authority but at the same time has to be convincing when mentioning the next necessary steps in politics (l. 11). Besides, that is why he intends to be motivating and persuasive. In addition, Obama is patriotic and proud whenever he addresses America’s progress (l. 27) since this is corresponding with the American mentality. However, the former president seems to be critical when talking about current issues such as the drug and insurance industry (l. 19).
Secondly, another strategy Obama employs is the use of style. Therefore, the speaker establishes contact by making the audience feel personally addressed. In this case he uses the inclusive we (cp. l. 35) to place himself and the audience on the same level and help to identify with the goal. Besides, Obama directly addresses the audience while saying “with your voices and your votes, you made it clear at this moment” (l. 25) with the purpose to give each person the feeling of being referred to individually.
Therefore, the phrase “We can do this with our new majority” (l. 9) represents his patriotic and proud national values and intensifies his confirmation and admiration towards the nation. Consequentially, the speaker mentions common values, like togetherness, assertiveness and solidarity, so that the audience feels united because they share the same ideas.
As the former president mentions “the working Americans who deserve it” (l. 36) he openly shows his love for the country and his pride by choosing positive words to talk about the nation.
This leads to the conclusion that he chooses a motivating and proud tone as well as an easily understandable, inclusive and positive style based on his positive choice of words, common values and inclusive pronouns.
Next, Obama makes additionally use of rhetorical devices. In this case, Obama employs a metaphor by mentioning “we always knew our climb would be steep” (l. 29). Thus, it refers in an illustrative way to the difficulties Obama and the nation have to face, which creates a compassionate picture in the listener’s mind and triggers uniting as well as proud feelings and associations.
Moreover, the former president stresses the nation’s unique togetherness and strength by using the repetition and alliteration1 “with your voices and your votes, you made it clear that […] something is happening in America” (l. 31). Consequently, this underlines Obama’s belief that the citizens are very powerful and meaningful for the future and further political progress.
Furthermore, this national power is also reinforced by employing the enumeration and parallelism “men and woman in Des Moines and Davenport; in Lebanon and Concord” (l. 38). Therefore, the rhetorical devices intensify the picture of the American mentality and diversity in a patriotic a supportive way.
Besides, the idea of the American Dream is emphasized by using the alliteration “because they believe what this country can be” (l. 16). Consequently, this phrase symbolizes the dream of national and personal success and freedom, which assure a higher standard of living through conviction and hard work.
In addition, this dream can be achieved regardless of the person’s social or ethnic background, which is pointed out with the antithesis2, enumeration and parallelism “whether we are rich or poor; black or white; Latino or Asian” (l. 33). Thus, Obama enhances the American Dream to assure the further success and progress in America and additionally motivates every social class to follow this dream.
Additionally, the main message of change is reinforced by using the repetition “That is what happening in America right now. Change is what happening in America.” (l. 48), which intensifies the word “change” in order to make it more memorable for the audience. Therefore, common values such as striving for development and progress are conveyed.
Furthermore, Obama adds the metaphors3 “long political darkness” (l. 40) and “division and distraction [have] clouded Washington” (l. 42), which are additionally underlined with an alliteration. Therefore, the rhetorical devices create a vivid and weather-inspired picture in the listener’s mind, which illustrates that Obama’s plans have an enlightening effect and thus solve any problem.
Due to this, the former president intensifies his conviction with the hyperbole4 and parallelism “There’s no problem we can’t solve - no destiny we cannot fulfill” (l. 31). Hence, the rhetorical devices have a persuasive effect since Obama is convinced by his measures and therefore also exaggerates his beliefs in order to show his positive and motivating attitude.
Last but not least, the former president employs the anaphor “We can” (ll. 35, 16) in order to motivate and persuade the audience with positively connoted words, that create a committed and an enthusiastic atmosphere.
All in all, Obama intends to create a very convincing image of his visions about change in America by using a committed and motivating tone, a positive and inclusive style as well as various rhetorical devices. Thus, it makes the speech interesting and captivating, so that it is more memorable and stimulates to rethink this topic.
The question to be pondered about is a statement given by Trump which deals with whether Mexico sends its worst people to the USA, who have lots of problems and thus transfer them. Because of this issue’s currentness it will be discussed in the following comment.
First of all, one may assume that Mexico wants to get rid of its troublemakers that they consequently send to the USA. Therefore, these people transfer problems. Nonetheless, it is important to understand that not the people are problematic but the status quo they are living in. Because of certain circumstances such as political or socioeconomic difficulties immigrants are not sent but forced to leave the country, in order to have a realistic chance to live. Thus, the first assumption is used as an excuse for racism and to blame people for lack of jobs, economic problems or drug crimes. Since this measure is easier to handle a lot of (illegal) migrants, that need help, are expelled. Especially since the USA is a nation of immigrants, there should be support for other fellow humans. Unfortunately, with building a wall at the US-Mexican border, a lot of people have to suffer and die.
Furthermore, there could be the argument that a flood of immigrants, such as Mexicans, leads to fatal consequences for the USA. But on second thought, people with another cultural background can lead to promising opportunities with a bright future. Since those immigrants left their country for a better life, you can expect that they are willing to show their motivated work ethic and apply their diverse knowledge. This can lead to a lucrative result for both parties. Especially since the USA represents the American Dream, the future should be promising for anyone who wants to start a new life there. In this context, the American Dream symbolizes a dream of immigrants in the USA of economic success while maintaining personal freedom. Thus, every person can achieve a higher standard of living in the future through hard work and regardless of his or her current prosperity. Unfortunately, this idealistic dream seems to be unreachable for Mexican immigrants.
In my opinion, since Mexicans have to deal with cultural and linguistic obstacles but also prejudices, a comfortable new beginning as an immigrant is nearly impossible. Considering the current US president and his vision to expand the border wall makes the American Dream even more unreachable for them. Thus, migrants have to face the challenge of being blamed unreasonably.
All in all, the assumptions in Trump’s statement turn out to be not only wrong but they also affect Mexican immigrants in a fatal way. Since a prejudiced mentality causes additional difficulties, the American Dream appears to be unattainable.