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Barack Obama's President Elect Victory Speech

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Chloe Carpenter

on 19 December 2014

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Transcript of Barack Obama's President Elect Victory Speech

Barack Obama's President Elect Victory Speech
by Chloe Carpenter, Carolyn Chandler, and Ashlee Chaidez
Rhetorical Analysis
Barack Obama's election victory speech was addressed at Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois. Grant Park was the location of many protests of the 1968 Democratic National Convention, which were significant for ending in violence, riots and police brutality. History gave Grant Park another chance at the scene of a peaceful and jubilant celebration of Barack Obama's presidential victory. Chicago is also the home city of Obama and he has many emotional ties as his whole life growing up was centered around the windy city. The significance of the setting creates a more personal speech instead of a political statement. This setting allows Obama to appear more relatable and helps sympathize with his audience. Therefore his speech is more powerful because he is seen as more than just a president.
The Presidential race and election of 2008 was one of critical change. With the Democrat team of Obama and Biden running against the Republican team of McCain and Palin, the election was going to make history whether one duo or the other won America's vote; either the first African American would be elected president, or the first woman would hold the office as vice-president. As Obama recalls in his speech, people all over the country came out to stand in
"lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers [the] nation [had] never seen."
In the end, as we all know, Barack Obama was elected President of the United States.
On Obama's president elect victory speech, he wore a traditional black suit accompanied with a blue tie. Obama's formal attire emphasized his professional nature and presented him in a respectful manner. Democrats typically sport a blue tie because it is considered not conservative. Before giving his speech, he walked upon the platform with his wife and two daughters, stressing the prominence and importance of his loved ones during the campaign and this reputes him as a "family man". Throughout his speech, he makes eye contact amongst the crowd, and does not look directly into the camera. This helps him develop a deeper connection with the audience.
President Obama's victory speech in Chicago serves as a thank you to the American people who made the victory possible, and also as a way to motivate the entire country to work together and support the nation in this challenging time and through the obstacles that the U.S. must overcome. Obama addresses all citizens, and asks that each and every person think about what they can do, not just for themselves, but for the good of the country as a whole, and to think past their own future, to the futures of their children and grandchildren, and to the future of the United States of America.
In his speech, President Obama states that

"For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime...The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you, we as a people will get there."
In this argument, President Obama asserts that if and when the United States is challenged by the obstacles and the hardships of the future, the nation will overcome with the help and support of its united people.
Obama also uses an extensive amount of tropes in this section. He uses the metaphor
"Our climb will be steep"
, to describe the road that America will travel, riddled with trials and obstacles, in order to achieve greatness it has been known for.

He continues with another metaphor, saying,
"This is our chance to answer that call"
, issuing a call to action amongst the audience to become proactive in uniting to support the country in its time of need during global crisis.

Obama also uses parallelism in this section, saying,
"I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it's been done in America for 221 years -- block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand."
Not only does it support the claim that, through his leadership, the US will prosper once more, but it also gives a feeling of direction and building anticipation, sentence by sentence.
Section 1
In this section, President Obama addresses the people of the United States, congratulating them not on his victory, but theirs.
Schemes and Tropes
Near the beginning of his speech, President Obama uses repetition of the phrase
"it is the answer."
By doing so, and starting the speech with rhetorical questions, Obama establishes the idea that his election as President is the solution to a problem.

Obama also utilizes parallelism, saying,
"It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor..."
and he uses the balanced sentence to show the various kinds of people that, with his victory, he can help; Therefore emphasizing his idea of equality applied during his campaign. In addition, listing all the different types of people who hold this victory serves to unify the country together, not
"just [as] a collection of individuals or a collection of Red States and Blue States,"
but as one unified nation.

Again using repetition, Obama hands the glory and victory of his election to his audience and his supporters, saying,

"It belongs to you. It belongs to you."

This serves to show that not only is Obama grateful to the people of America, but it also casts him as a man who looks out for his people and who will support them as their next president and leader.
Ethos, Logos, and Pathos
Throughout the first part of his speech, President Obama carries a gracious and humble tone He makes a point to never focus on himself, but rather his supporters, thanking all the people of the nation who stood by him throughout the election, saying
"I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to."
In this way, Obama shows that he understands how much power the American people hold, and also shows that he is truly grateful to them.
In this first section, Obama focuses on emotional appeal, or pathos, stating
"we are, and always will be, the United States of America!"
This phrase generates feelings of national pride as well as feelings of strength and accomplishment. It also unifies the people of the nation together as one.

Additionally, Obama establishes ethos, characterizing the people of America as
hardworking, diligent, and strong. Not only does this support the idea that he was the right choice for president because the people picked him, but it also credits the American people for their support and efforts that helped him win.
Section 2
In this section of the speech, President Obama outlines the road ahead of the country.
Schemes and Tropes
Ethos, Logos, and Pathos
Section 3
In this section, President Obama motivates and inspires the audience for a call to action to unite as one to prepare themselves to persevere through the enduring journey ahead.
As President Obama lays out the challenges that the country faces, there is a sense of urgency. As he says
"You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead"
he underlines the fact that it will not be easy, but these trials must be faced as soon as possible. This tone also contributes to a call to action, urging people to unite and support him and his leadership.
Obama establishes ethos as refers to the personal obligation and responsibility he owes to the public. He stresses that amongst the political corruption within the government,
"I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree."
Obama's ethos helps emphasize his promise to foster equal treatment and justice to those voices that remain unheard and he stresses that the audience's opinion is of utmost importance.

One of his most impactful examples is his reference to Nixon Cooper, a 106 year old women who voted, even though decades before she was limited to exercising her rights because of her gender and the color of his skin. Barack goes on to say that
"Tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America -- the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed."
Cooper's story helps evoke an inspiring effect unto the audience. Another example used in Barack's speech is the inclusion of various accomplishments of the country as a whole.
Schemes and Tropes
Ethos, Logos, and Pathos
Towards the end of his speech, Obama creates a motivating tone by using inspirational diction to fuel the hope of his audience. He restores the faith of the people by saying that
"where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can."
Obama's tone helps establish a call to action amongst citizens to rise as a united force in an effort to overcome obstacles. The tone evokes motivation in order to push people to aid in the progression of the country as being beneficial in overall.
Obama establishes Pathos as he explains that the decisions we make now will directly effect future generations. He establishes the idea that
"...if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to o live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?"
This pathos helps evoke a sense of urgency amongst his audience to warn them of the critical nature of the current situation that directly motivates them for a cause greater than the present.

He explains that
"When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world...A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination."
This helps

emphasize the America's success at achieving critical victories and to fuel the audience with a security that if they can overcome these feats, they can overcome any obstacle in the futur
In this last part of the speech, Obama repeats the phrase
"yes we can"
numerous times. This repetition gives the section a empowering feeling allowing no room for doubt or opposition. Not only does it mean we can, but it also implies that we will. In this way "Yes we can" serves as a call to action to support Obama's leadership.

Obama also uses the trope of allusion, saying
"When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose: Yes we can. When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved: Yes we can."
By recalling past times of hardship in America, Obama establishes the idea that the US is a force that, thanks to the American people, can overcome anything.
Full transcript