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A Time For Choosing - Ronald Reagan

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Gage Zobell

on 27 February 2014

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Transcript of A Time For Choosing - Ronald Reagan

"A Time For Choosing"
- The Speech that Started a Career -
CONTEXT
"I have spent most of my life as a Democrat. I recently have seen fit to follow another course. . . . I did not leave the Democratic Party, the party left me." -Ronald Reagan
Analysis
IMPACTS: Immediate Effects
Long Term Impacts:
* My Grandfather became a Republican . . . . . .

* My father studied economics and became a Republican . . . . . . .

* I studied economics, listened to this speech, and became a Republican. . . . . . . . . .
Ronald Reagan - 1964 Republic National Convention
* Former Democrat
* Former President of the Screen Actors Guild
* A recent devotee of Friedrich Hayek
* A man with a powerful voice, and the ability to capture the hearts and imaginations of Americans.


1) CONTEXT

2) ANALYSIS

3) IMPACTS
* Civil Rights Movement in full swing - Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed in July

* A recently assassinated President John Fitzgerald Kennedy - a nation still in mourning half a year later

* Escalation of the Vietnam Conflict under LBJ

* Recent Cuban Missile Crisis reminding Americans that the Soviet Union was ever threatening during the Cold War.

* Struggling economy with high unemployment. The debate in full swing if socialism is the answer. Will the USSR really "bury us" economically?

* Inflation saps the power of the dollar. Still Democrats claim, "We've never had it so good......"

* The American people feel defeated. Republicans are caught between two visions: a moderate one of appeasement, or a return to free market economics and strong foreign policy.
- The Great Communicator -
Purpose - 1: Promote Barry Goldwater
2: Proclaim conservative principles
3: Sway wavering Democrats
- Unprecedented, given the ability to choose his own words. He built his speech around three broad purposes.
DELIVERY - Poised and Confident
* Tempo- Utilized a confidence tempo. Neither too fast / nor too slow. Quickening during jokes, pausing during moments of contemplation.

* Eye Contact- Looked directly at the camera and the audience. Holding their gaze long enough to make his points felt as if they were being given directly to each individual.

* Connection with the Audience- From thunderous claps to pregnant silence, the audience was captivated. He was an unknown quality, and he had produced the unexpected, a speech that capture their hearts and mind.
"We felt as though we had made a mistake, he was the man who should be running." - Brit Hume

* Gestures- Hands kept calmly on the podium through most of the speech. His gestures seemed natural, yet when made they elicited the raw power he held.

* Voice- Not the deepest voice, yet natural. His voice elevates when excited and quickens when telling a joke, but then deepens when he wishes to make an impactful statement. Extreme conviction and confidence as he states statistics and makes his points.

* Recognized his Audience(s) - Reagan knew his purpose was to capture Democrat votes. He spoke to the audience, yet to the larger audience of disenfranchised Democrats as well.
Substance
: Simple yet Rich

LOGOS - "We're spending 45 billion dollars on welfare . . . now do a little arithmetic . . .we should be able to give each family $4,600 well above poverty, but it is running only at $600. . . . . It would seem that someplace there must be some overhead."

ETHOS - "I have spent most of my life as a Democrat....." and "Well, I, for one, resent it when a representative of the people refers to you and me, the free men and women of this country as 'the masses'."

PATHOS - "...being weakened from within spiritually, morally, and economically . . . [USSR] has heard voices pleading for peace at any price . . . You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery."

Statistics - "Today, 37 cents out of every dollar earned in this country is the tax collector's share, and yet our government continues to spend. . . "

Imagery - "We're at war with the most dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind in his long climb from the swamp to the stars. . . if we lose . . . history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening."

Powerful Phrases - After being told that they were the party "against" things. He cites a litany of what the party is for...."we're FOR a provision that destitution should not follow unemployment by reason of old age" / "we're for telling our senior citizens that no one in this country should be denied medical care because of a lack of funds" / "we're for an international organization, where the nations of the world can seek peace."


* Presidential Election - Barry Goldwater was completely crushed by Lyndon Johnson.

* Conservative Movement - Found a voice in Ronald Reagan. Free Market Economics and Strong Foreign Policy became imbedded as Republican principles.

* Ronald Reagan rose from obscurity to become the Republican Governor of California. A feat that not even former Vice President Nixon (later President Nixon) was able to accomplish.

* Disenfranchised Democrats felt a kinship to Ronald Reagan.
* 1) Ronald Reagan runs for President 3 times. 3rd time, he wins the primary and goes on to defeat Jimmy Carterin 1980, and win re-election in 1984 in one of the most lopsided victories.

* 2) "A Time for Choosing" is cited as the beginning of the resurgence of true conservative principles in the Republican Party.

* 3) Republicans look to Ronald Reagan as the father of the modern Republican Party.

PERSONAL IMPACTS
Themes - 1: Strength of the American people
2: Power of free markets
3: Rebutting critiques on Goldwater
4: Fighting the USSR and Socialism
Full transcript