Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Analysis 1: Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan

Is the embodiment of a great speaker, and perhaps one of the greatest masters of persuasion through performance the world has ever witnessed. To listen to his words, to hear the passion and conviction in his voice can make ones heart begin to pound with patriotism for he reminds us that we are Americans first, and that freedom is not free. His confidence is that of an experienced leader, and he knows what makes a true American tick. He is proud of this country, and it is refreshing to hear such vigor, passion and love directed towards it.

Here is the first portion of the speech. Please read this first and then watch the video to realize Gorgias’s belief in the power of performance and how it promotes an effective persuasion.

“Those who would trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state have told us they have a utopian solution of peace without victory they call their policy accommodation and they say it will only avoid any direct confrontation with the enemy he’ll forget his evil ways and learn to love us all who oppose them are indicted as war mongers they say we offer simple answers to complex problems well perhaps there is a simple answer, not an easy answer, but simple…”
(Please view the video in its entirety)

This speech is a strong example of rhetoric and the art of persuasion.
Reagan is a great example of ethos. He “looks the part” of a man that stands tall and appears virtuous (ArĂȘte) in his beliefs. His voice is direct and clear. His words are well thought out and encompass a powerful message for the people to absorb (Eunoia). He has an understanding of human emotion, and desire. He creates powerful imagery through the mention of Jesus Christ and the cross. He reminds the people of our forefathers and their words as when Alexander Hamilton is quoted as saying, "A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one!" This is powerful, powerful stuff and Reagan knew how to work an audience. There was steady tone of his voice that would lift and drop at just the right moments. He knew what Americans long for, what they fear, and what they would fight for when pushed. He understands the evil that pursues our way of life and that we must never appease it but instead confront it. His words, speeches, and wisdom still hold great meaning too many Americans today. They are left longing for the one that will fill his shoes, but they know it most likely won’t happen again in their lifetime.

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