State of Union Address – Obama 2015 : A Reflection

In his State of the Union address, Obama starts by giving a brief summary of the historical progresses that the nation made. He then moves to the present problems and solutions, and finally, expands to several issues that concern both the nation and the world. Throughout his speech, the president continuously reminds his audiences, the Americans and the governors, that everyone is united in this nation. Obama’s frequent use of “we” includes both the citizens and himself, strengthening the bond between civilians and the government, which leads to trust between the two groups. He brings out a specific example of a middle class family that is working hard to make a living, and connects this case to the nation as a whole, asserting that the United States is a family that cares about each of its members. This sense of unity will encourage the citizens to face the hardships together with confidence, a result of sparking their patriotism. On the other hand, while Obama promised that the government shall do its best to raise low wages, create jobs, and cancel tuitions, etc., he also warns everyone to also do his or her own part by working hard. He subtly hints that sometimes when the nation sinks into crisis, it is not only because of the government’s inability to govern, but also because some people are not doing their parts to help the country. On a more obvious level, Obama is declaring that everyone matters in this nation and that together, they will prevail.

In addition, Obama addresses to all kinds of people, no matter their age group, background, race, or preference. Obama keeps reminding the people throughout the duration of his speech that children are the future of America and it is essential that they receive the best education possible. This statement utilizes mankind’s natural love for youngsters. The logic is also hard to argue against, since universally, it is considered morally right to care for the future generations and innocent children. The president also acknowledged adults and senior citizens’ hardship with insurance, retirement, and wage. This wide range of acknowledgement shows Obama as a caring and alert leader.

When asking for support on his policies from the Congress, Obama applies the word “need” instead of “want”. The fundamental difference between two words plays a dramatic role in his persuasion. “Need” has almost a seducing effect: It gives the audiences an impression that his ideas are necessary for the development of the country. “Want” only makes his tone more demanding and even selfish, which is unfavorable. As the president, Obama brings up the “American Dream”, a notion so deeply rooted and symbolic in America that it has been inscribed in American literature since the birth of the nation. It connects the audiences sentimentally to their own country and reminds the people of their identity as Americans.

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2 thoughts on “State of Union Address – Obama 2015 : A Reflection

  1. Obama’s rhetorical strategies in his State of the Union address were impressive, and I think you did a great job analyzing them. He employs a wide expanse of pathetic appeals from his diction to his inclusion of an expansive audience that I did not even recognize some of them. While I noticed his appeal to the audience’s patriotic feelings, I didn’t consider his use of the words “we” or “need” as rhetorical devices.However, as you point out, both are quite effective in developing his argument and winning support. I recently analyzed Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society” speech, and I think it is interesting how these two presidential speeches employ many similar rhetorical strategies. In LBJ’s speech, he also arouses love for children when he urges that classrooms are one of the main areas that need reform. Not only do Obama and LBJ share similar opinions on this topic, but they also largely appeal to the audience’s patriotism which is extremely effective for presidential speeches. While the content of both speeches are interesting and relevant, the rhetorical strategies seem to appeal to me the most, and I enjoyed reading your analysis of Obama’s address.

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  2. Pingback: Comments for Classmates! | thejumbledjournal

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