OratoricalAnalysis: Obama Keynote Address in 2004 Democratic Convention
Oratoryanalysis: Obama Keynote Address in 2004 Democratic Convention
“Thereis not a black America, white America, Latino America, and AsianAmerica there is the United States of America.” Barack Obama spokethose words in his speech during the 2004 Democratic Convention inBoston. When Obama gave his keynote address, he highlighted theimportance of the American dream and challenged the people tocontinue with the ideas of opportunity and freedom for all and torenew the American hope. These words have remained a roadmap toObama’s political agenda a decade later.
Tounderstand the impact of Obama’s keynote address and its impact onhis political career and the American politics, we will first examinethe context. Then, we will look at the rhetorical strategies used inthe speech, and finally conduct a critical analysis of itssignificance since 2004 to date.
TheBackground of the Speech
First,we will explore the context of the speech by describing its purpose.
In2004 Democratic Convention, the keynote address was given by the thenIllinois Senator, Barack Obama. During this time, Obama was anunknown politician who became the third African-American to give suchan important speech during a convention of a major political party.Obama used the eighteen minutes of his speech advocating for theDemocratic nominee, John Kerry, to be elected as president. Thespeech was addressed to the Democratic audience, but it also reachedout to all Americans. Therefore, it touched people of all races,ages, gender, and political beliefs.
Nowthat we understand the context of the speech, we can explore how thespeech was delivered and the rhetorical devices incorporated to makeit impressive.
Explanationof the Speech and How it Was Delivered
Thetheme of Obama’s keynote address was the American dream. He wantedto inspire and motivate the people to change the political situationin the country by making the right choice during the elections. Hisspeech addressed the artificial and unnecessary split in Americanculture and politics, stressing the importance of unity in thecountry even among the blue states for Democrats and red states forRepublicans. Obama used persuasive appeals such as pathos to appealto the audience’s emotions and make the speech more convincing andmemorable. For example, he indicated that people worship an awesomeGod in the Democratic states, which denied the idea that DemocraticParty was secular. Besides, he connected emotionally with everyreligious believer by using quotes from the Bible.
Additionally,Obama also utilized pathos to associate with the people and portrayhimself as an equal. For example, he used terms such as small andsimple to connect to the blue-collar workers, which was not common inDemocrat politics. Throughout the address, Obama relates to people byciting his heritage as a child of two different cultures. Obama alsouses emotional appeals to associate himself with people of similarbackgrounds by showing pride in his heritage and accomplishments as aminority in the American politics. He effectively uses thisrhetorical technique to create a similarity between himself and hisaudience who grew up in the same situation as he did. Moreover, Obamarecounts a few stories about his childhood and in particular, theproblems his parents went through because they did not have thebenefits many Americans lack as well. Thus, the audience easilyidentified with Obama because he recognized and sympathized withtheir situation.
Thenagain, Obama talked specifically mentioned the issues of education,healthcare, and veteran’s affairs. With these words, Obama connectswith the people by addressing the issues that are most important tothem. He skillfully showed understanding of the people’s needs andacknowledged that they do not expect the government to solve alltheir problems. In his memorable words, Obama persuaded the audienceto promote the unity shared by all Americans. He confirmed that everyAmerican want a better world through small miracles such as libertyto start business, freedom of expression, and the right toparticipate in the political process. Obama embraces shared values ofthe American dream and tells stories to show how the government hasdisappointed the Americans. For example, he described how Americanworkers have lost their jobs due to competition from immigrants.Accordingly, Obama gained the trust of his audience because heunderstood their situation and even shows concern for them. Thus, itmade the speech more accessible and memorable to many people, whichgave more support to the main themes.
Onthe other hand, Obama used vocal and body language techniques to getthe message across to his audience. The convention was the first timefor Obama to give such an important speech before thousands ofDemocratic delegates. However, he displayed movement and rhythm of agreat speaker. His gestures reflect clarity of his language thus,giving the audience confidence in his words. Obama also uses hisvoice effectively where he slows it down, pauses, and lowers hisvolume for impact. At times, Obama raised his voice and increased hispace to emphasize a key idea. Obama’s voice was passionate andreassuring, which made it easy for the audience to understand andagree with his message. Additionally, he pivoted and gesturedconstantly embracing his audience in his body language. Whenspeaking, Obama moved his arm, but his body orientation remainedconstant. Nonetheless, he did not move his arm far away from hisbody, and he kept his hands enclosed throughout the speech. Overall,his posture and gestures were controlled to ensure that they do notdistract the listener from his message. After the speech, the crowdof delegates was enthusiastically waving white and blue campaignsigns and chanting his name. Therefore, it was evident that thespeech had a profound effect on the audience since three months laterObama was elected to the United States Senate.
CriticalAnalysis of the Speech
Lastly,we look at the historical significance of the speech since 2004 andits impact on the American politics and the people up to date.
Thespeech placed Obama on the map for a great political career bypushing him into the national spotlight. The rhetoric had impressiveresults because soon after, Obama gained a valuable endorsement ofSenator Jon Corzine of New Jersey, who was the chairperson of theDemocratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Initially, the DemocraticParty planned to use Obama because he was likable, youthful,energetic, and most importantly, he would attract theAfrican-American voters and command a television presence the partyneeded. Nonetheless, the speech did more than that as it highlightedthe importance of Obama’s persona due to the impression he madeupon the broad range of demographics he connected with during theaddress.
Furthermore,the speech reshaped the American politics. The rhetoric emphasized onhelping the entire nation instead of working for the interests ofjust a particular group. Therefore, Obama’s inclusive language,self-discourse, and unique balance of American principles generatedhope in the country’s future and gave him credibility as arhetorician. Moreover, unlike most liberals, Obama did not place allthe responsibility for changing the situation in the country solelyon the government, but called the people to work and activelyparticipate in improving their wellbeing. Thus, it requires thebalance between the responsibilities of both the individuals and thegovernment.
Obama’sspeech is significant even to date as it stressed the importance ofAmerican dream similar to the vision of Ronald Regan. Severally, heemphasized that every person had to work hard and embrace personalresponsibility as the solution to wellbeing and educational reform.His words are still relevant as he encouraged the people to make surethat every child in the country had an opportunity to have a decentlife. Besides, his words can help us embrace the diversity in theUnited States because the urge all Americans to renew their vow tothe American values and principles. The message emphasizes theimportance of faith and hard work to reaffirm people’s trust in theAmerica as a land of greatness.
Inconclusion, Obama’s keynote speech stressed the importance of unityeven as he challenged the people to work towards the American dream,which entailed freedom and opportunity for all. Obama gave anincredibly passionate and emotional address that spoke to millionacross the country in the wake of 2004 presidential elections. Obamatalked about national unity and the exceptional features of theUnited States, which made the speech an example of American oratoryand patriotism. He also appealed to the sense of nationalism andAmerican pride through his family story. Obama’s keynote addressuses rhetorical techniques clearly and efficiently to have a profoundeffect on its audience among the Democrats, independents,Republicans, registered voters, and TV viewers. The speech has beenextensively praised as one of the most powerful oratory of the lasttwo and half decades. Therefore, Obama signified how language is aresourceful power tool in the twenty-first century when governing hasbecome complicated. Consequently, it is right to say that the speechwas one of Obama’s best performances, which paved the way for hispolitical career on a national platform and eventually the path tothe presidency. Therefore, his words are still relevant in thecountry as they urge the people to eliminate the racial dividebecause there is not a black America, white America, Latino America,and Asian America there is the United States of America.