December 18, 2012
Portfolio: How do Politicians Use Language to Persuade Us?
Barack Obama once said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” This quote inspired many and gave hope in Obama and his upcoming presidency. But there is more to how and what he does to inspire and persuade us at the same time. Propaganda, a form of communication designed to influence the attitudes and actions of a particular group; it can be used as a form of political warfare. The most commonly used propaganda devices are, Name Calling, Glittering Generalities, Transfer, Testimonial, Plain Folk’s, Card Stacking, and the Band Wagon device. In Obama’s 2012 Acceptance Speech, we can recognize that he uses different strategies like The Plain Folk’s, where he appears like regular people, then, Glittering Generalities, which appeals to our emotions, Inflated Language, where things aren’t more than what they seem, and jumping on the Bandwagon as examples to convince us that he will be the change that we seek.
A common strategy used in campaigns is The Plain Folk’s strategy because Obama tries to win our confidence and vote by appearing to be just like regular people. The Institute for Propaganda Analysis’s, “How to Detect Propaganda” states that “… they win our votes by showing that they’re just as common as the rest of us - ‘just plain folk’ – and therefore, wise and good.”(430) If Obama appears and acts like a regular American citizen, the people would believe that he is just like the rest of the nation. If Obama appears to be just like the plain folk, then people will see that they’re relatively similar to each other and most likely be able to trust him in office. In the mere beginning seconds of Obama’s Acceptance Speech he expresses, “Michelle, I love you so much. A few nights ago, everybody was reminded just what a lucky man I am. Malia and Sasha, we are so proud of you. And yes, you do have to go to school in the mornin’.” This minor addition of affection shows that he is also a loving husband to his wife, and a caring father to his children. This suggests that Obama is a part of a traditional family, whose children have to go to school just like every other kid the following day. It affirms that Obama, a family man, appeals to families of Americans because he has one of his own, so he will apply family as a value to the political agenda. Reinforcing the belief and trust in him, from American families. Towards the closing remarks of the speech, Obama affirms, “I’m no longer just a candidate, I’m the President. And that means that I know what it means to send young soldiers into battle, for I’ve held in my arms mothers and fathers who didn’t return, I’ve shared the pain of families who’ve lost their homes and the frustration of workers who lost their jobs.” Obama relates to families that have been through the worst times in wars, out on the field and here at home. He shares sympathy for those who have lost loved ones. Obama relates to the families losing their homes to the failing economy and real estates, and citizens that have lost their jobs due to the rising unemployment rates. Obama expresses his emotion and sympathy for families, but they all relate to a problem in the US, that he believes he can fix. For he has experienced war, we can sense that he will bring the soldiers back home, so there’s those families votes. He will try to recover the economy to bring people back to their homes and bring jobs back to cities throughout the US. When Obama appears to be just like us, we can now easily recognize that it is a strategy used to persuade us.
Glittering Generalities are used by Obama to appeal and persuade our emotions by using “good words” to make the people happy. In the “How to Detect Propaganda” article, the authors from, The Institute for Propaganda Analysis, suggests that, “Glittering Generalities is a device to...
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