What influence or effect does presidential speech have on the public? Explain with examples from Trester’s essay, “Do You Speak Presidential?” and the embedded Videos.
Language is one of the most important factors in a political campaign. It is the strongest tool for a politician. The speaking style reflects the background of the speaker. His/her accent defines where he/she was born and how he/she has been brought up. The credibility of a speaker is mostly determined by his way of speaking. If he is speaking in a respected way, it is considered that he belongs to a respectable area. Similarly, if a speaker continuously uses slang language, it is considered that he belongs to a slang area.
America is one of the countries whose governmental authorities change continuously. The people of the country do not keep electing a single person again and again. They prefer to give chance to new people who can make America great again. The new person is allowed to give presidential speeches before the election by which he/she can convince the people of the country. These speeches prove to be very successful in the elections. The example of Barack Obama is very prominent.
Barack Obama was not an old politician. He didn’t have any political background. He entered into politics with an aim and mission. He wanted to remove racism from America. Obama wanted to make America more united. He appeared in multiple presidential speeches where he spoke to the nation. In his speeches, he used the language that the nation wanted to hear. He connected with the people using emotional and enthusiastic speeches which later made him President of America.
The presidential speeches given by Barack Obama were very simple and informative. He knew how to connect with the audience. He didn’t use harsh or complicated language as most politicians do. Racism was at its peak at that time. The people were very disturbed by increasing trends of racism. They wanted these trends to be stopped. Obama was the first person to speak in the language that the people wanted to hear (CNN, 2017). He understood the feelings of the nation and spoke them in a way that made him win the election in America.
This shows that presidential speeches are very important because it helps to win the trust of the nation. Anna Marie Trester wrote a blog about the influence of presidential speeches on the nation. She used examples from the past to relate his topic. If the videos of the presidential speeches of Barack Obama are watched, it can be seen how much he was enthusiastic about changing America (THNKR, 2012). Tester believes that the language of the speech defines the areas from where these people come. Obama was born and brought in a simple village, that’s why his speaking style was simple.
Similarly, John F. Kennedy used to speak in R-less sound. He used to speak words in which he skipped ‘r’ words like everywhere or powah. Jimmy Carter and Franklin Delano Roosevelt also used to pronounce in an R-less tone. The r-less sound is particularly related to the people from New York, New England, New Jersey, and some parts of the South. R-less sounds are generally related to a more elite class of the country. Kennedy also belonged to the elite class of the country.
Impact of Presidential Speeches on the Nation
Presidential speeches have always been the most effective way for politicians to communicate with the people. They get a chance to connect with the audience which helps them to win the elections. Presidential speeches are the only chance for a presidential candidate to increase his popularity among the nation which then makes him the president of the country. If a person successfully speaks to the nation in the presidential speech, he becomes the president. Examples are Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, etc. (CNN, 2015)
Similarly, if a presidential candidate fails to successfully speak and connect with the audience, he/she fails to become the president of the country. Examples include John Kerry, Bill Clinton, and Hillary Clinton. These candidates failed to convince the nation which made them lose the elections in different eras. It means that presidential speeches are very important in the presidential elections of the country.
Tester defined on her blog that Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was the 32nd President of America, used to connect with his nation in a different way. FDR used to connect with the nation using the Fireside chats radio program (Trester, 2005). He used to speak to the nation during World War II in a simple language. He talked to the nation in a simple plain speech that encouraged the nation. It also increased his popularity in the nation. It was the first time that a President of America was using mass media to connect with his audience. Unlike his precedent Presidents, he used to keep his nation informed about the state operations which increased courage in the nation.
FDR felt that his nation should be kept informed about everything happening in the country. He simply explained to the nation the problems of the country and his plans to solve them. No President has used such a powerful direct method to communicate with the country ever since then. The changes brought by FDR after such revolutionary acts were also historic.
Ronald Reagan followed the FDR’s method of communication through mass media. His use of television during presidential speeches and his campaigns is nominal because he presented his ideas and the essential elements to the nation using television. His speeches were so convincing that the nation elected him as their president with a high mandate.
The style of speech of Bill Clinton was also very different. His prominent feature was that he used style-shifting techniques in every speech. He used to change his style of speech in every speech according to the occasion and the event. Most the politicians used to use harsh language which could be disturbing. Clinton was a president who always looked calm and relaxed. He used to change his speaking style on the base of where he was and to whom he was talking.
The same feature of style-shifting was also seen in Barack Obama. Some of his speeches reflected his style-shifting feature. He was seen smiling and singing songs at some of his speeches in some events of happiness while he was also seen speaking in a low tone with tears in his eyes at some sad events. This made him more connected with the audience emotionally.
If the presidential speeches of George W. Bush are seen, he was a President with a folky style of speech. Bush used to speak to the nation in a more non-formal way. He didn’t use a language that shows that he is much educated and belongs to the elite class. He spoke to the audience in a language that was more common in people. The more you use the language of the public, the more will be your connection with the public.
Bush also did some informal speeches deliberately in which he spoke in different languages like Spanish. The reason was that he wanted to show the Spanish people that he is connected to them. Bush didn’t try to impose his image of being intellectual on the people. Rather he used the language that a normal American may use which urged the nation to think that he is one of them. It is not like his speeches were very perfect. He used to have errors in his speeches but the errors also seemed to work for him because they proved his down-to-earth personality to the nation.
In the Presidential elections in America, Washington DC is considered the heart of the campaign. The reason is that the establishment of country resides in Washington DC. In the past, the presidential candidates used to focus more on the people of Washington DC just to gain power and money. George W. Bush changed the tradition. He distanced himself from Washington DC and tried to spread his campaign in the Southern and other areas of the country. This increased his popularity across the country.
He specifically focused on the Southern people. He always seemed so calm and relaxed with the Southern people while his competitor, Al Gore, who had also the same linguistic features didn’t gain much attention from Southern People. The reason was that he was being too stuffy which stick with the label of not being “Southern enough”. Gore seemed to be more connected to Washington DC.
A linguist named Geoffrey Nunberg noticed that Bush was using the words like ‘it’s’ or ‘I’m’ more often than Gore. Although it seems a very little difference between the speeches of both presidential candidates, it affected a lot. The people perceived Al Gore as more arrogant and stuffy as compared to Bush just because Bush used words that are more down-to-earth. Gore was being more formal while Bush was being more informal which the best method to connect with the people was.
In the elections of 2004, the presidential candidate John Kerry sounded more informal as noticed by the linguists. Kerry used to escape the word (g) at the end of some words like talking, walking, or eating which sounded very informal. Although he was neither a Southern, nor a Texan, the people used to believe him.
The nation of any country always tries to find out a leader who is more connected to them rather than a leader who is arrogant and does not belong to them. The case is specific to America because the presidents of America are selected for the Presidential speeches in which the candidates try to convince their audience. If the audience is convinced, the candidate becomes the president of the country. The presidential speeches are very important because it helps to convince the nation which is necessary to win the election of the country. The more effective will the presidential speeches, the more will the chances of winning the election.
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