In politics, the ability to craft and deliver effective speeches is essential if one envisages a brilliant career. Political speeches aim at engaging as widest audience as possible and winning masses to one's cause and one's support. Currently, Americans are following the campaigns of the candidates to the highest political office in the country. This fierce and complicated competition demands a great deal of fortitude, charisma, and intellectual prowess. Hillary Rodham Clinton is presently one of the competitors for the presidential office, which calls for a specific attention to her speeches if one aims at understanding better the current political situation in the United States. The speech which Clinton delivered on Roosevelt Island, New York City, on June 13, 2015 is a good example of a compelling political address because it uses a clear appeal to ethos, suggestive imagery, and word choice for a specific audience.
The speech in question is an illustration of appropriate use of the appeal to ethos in the political discourse. Naturally, an efficient political speech, like any other kind of public address, should include appeals to pathos and logos as well as to ethos; however, the context of this particular speech justifies the extensive use of ethos. Clinton's speech in question was delivered at a rally opening her presidential campaign. Clinton refers to the previous Presidents coming from her party, the Democrats, as well as to her previous state service, as in the following example: “His [Theodore Roosevelt's] legacy lifted up a nation and inspired presidents who followed. One is the man I served as Secretary of State, Barack Obama, and another is my husband, Bill Clinton” (Clinton). Thus, one can say that the speaker establishes a clear line of succession and emphasizes her achievements in the political career at the same time. In order to engage the audience and win prospective voters, a candidate to a political office has to be convincing about his or her credentials which make him or her a suitable person to occupy the highest political post in the country. Clinton manages to be quite persuasive in this regard due to her frequently mentioning her place in the American political context.
Clinton's opening address is an example of an effective political speech due to the artful incorporation of imagery. Imagery plays a very important role in a political speech because it allows to tap into the connotations and associations, which makes it more engaging. Straightforward statements, though certainly needed in this kind of address, do not allow to reach an effect as powerful as imagery. An illustrative example of skill is Clinton's calling the place of the rally, Roosevelt Island, “a place with no ceiling” (Clinton). This image might seem out of place at first, but further it becomes clear that it alludes to the contents of Clinton's speech. This image has a literary meaning – the rally was held in the open air. However, one of the meanings of the word ceiling – a peak point, an obstacle – evokes the absence of barriers to achieving new heights. This image might also remind of a very specific obstacle – the so-called “glass ceiling”, especially considering that Clinton is a woman herself and mentions women's rights for professional achievements further in her speech. Thus, with a single sentence said, Clinton sets in motion a chain reaction of associations and connotations which make her political speech more influential.
The last but not the least, Clinton's speech features an attentive use of diction as a means of increasing persuasiveness. In order to understand properly how this element works, it is important to take into account the audience of the speech. Otherwise, the address will fail to engage the listeners and will be doomed. This is definitely not the case of Clinton's opening address which combines elevated language and simple routine informal words. The introduction, where Clinton refers to Theodore Roosevelt and previous two presidents-democrats, includes elevated words like “testament”, “unmatched aspirations”, “fundamental American belief”; however, further in the speech she uses simple everyday vocabulary as well: “You worked extra shifts, took second jobs, postponed home repairs you figured out how to make it work” (Clinton). The first strategy allows Clinton to place herself well into the American political context and emphasize her proficiency, which suggests that she is a suitable candidate to occupy the White House. The second strategy, though it might seem contrary to the first, makes Clinton even more convincing because it allows her to identify with the common people, who constitute the majority of the rally audience, and show them that she minds their problems and cares about them. Implementing the two aforementioned strategies interchangeably and, most importantly, subtly is a sure way of dressing an effective political speech tailored for a vast miscellaneous audience.
The speech which opened Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign is an example of an effective political address. Given the appropriate use of rhetorical appeals and stylistic elements, one can say that the speech in question is well-thought and well-written. It yields examples of the effective use of rhetorical appeals, incorporation of relevant and powerful imagery, and dressing what is to be said into the appropriate vocabulary choices.
Hillary Clinton's First Presidential Campaign Rally from New York's Roosevelt Island (June 13, 2015). June 15, 2015. Web.