Yes We Can: The Power of Words

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Courtney Lee
Kate Reed
15 September 2001

“Yes We Can”

On a cold, Chicago night, newly elected President Barack Obama warmed the hearts of Americans as he presented his “Election Night Remarks.” He spoke with intended gratitude, thanking those who made his victory possible, changing the minds of his opposition, and marking the start of his term with a sense of hope. His passionate speech evoked patriotism in every person through his use of repetition, personal relation, and allusions to America’s past history. Obama also embedded compare and contrast techniques to instill the idea that “We Can” and will change America; no matter our differences, we are one.

Obama begins his speech, prompting the nation with an answer that will solve our fears, doubts, and worries. He addresses the “young” from the “old”, the “rich” from the “poor”, the “democrats” from the “republicans”, creating a disparity, or division amongst them all. Then, he quickly contrasts this vast difference with a powerful sense of unity, claiming “we have never been a collection of red states and blue states: We are, and always will be, the United States of America.” By using this technique, the audience is able to digest Obama’s following words because he is addressing those who desire a unified country, something everyone, no matter the age, status, or political party, wants. Also by doing this, he is showing how important unity is to him; equating his hopes with theirs, and allowing them to set aside any skepticism to listen to him guide us as president. Obama continues by personalizing his appreciation for his victory by saying, “This is [our] victory.” This congratulation gives us the empowerment that we’ve won and all of “our” work as a nation has paid off. He uses the words “you” and “we” to address the serious issues: the economy, the war, and health care. He humanizes each aspect of their desolation and speaks to them personally to show his compassion. He says, “I promise...
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