The Division Preventing the Unionizing of America: Barack Obama’s rhetoric

In Barack Obama’s speech, “A more perfect union”, delivered on March 18, 2008, he speaks about the racial divide that prevents the unionizing of America. 221 years ago, a group of men “finally made real their declaration of independence”(Obama, 2008), however, this document was unfinished. Obama strongly supports the idea that America is a nation of prosperity and indifference. He speaks about his past schooling and his upbringing into a racially divided nation. He does this to convey the rhetorical method ethos to his audience. He also uses the rhetorical method pathos by addressing problems and views of every race and creed. By creating relatable stories, Mr. Barack Obama gains the emotional connections to all of his audience and voters.

Also, he uses the technique logos effectively to explain why his views are logically suitable for a better America. He discusses the idea of racial division and how it is due to the white communities misunderstanding of the black communities and vice-versa. He explains that unity amongst all races is necessary for the perfecting of the country. The idea of hope is reiterated throughout his speech and he supports this idea with the evidence from history. Looking at the sociocultural environment 221 years ago compared to today’s environment, represents hope. Even the past 20 years there have been significant advances in the social views of the nation. Barack Obama states that he is running for the presidency at this moment in history because “we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together” (Obama, 2008).

Barack Obama begins his speech by expressing what makes him qualified to be a presidency candidate and a front runner for the perfecting of the nation through the unionizing of races. He is suitable for this position as he has attended some of the finest schools in America and also “lived in one of the world’s poorest nations (Obama, 2008). This allows him to understand the different perspectives people have whether poor or rich, black or white. He is apart of a family that has fought for America in the hopes of a “perfect” nation. Obama appreciates that everyone has a right to their own opinion. Obama begins his speech mentioning the incomplete declaration of independence to illustrate the importance of his message.

Obama ends his speech with a deep and emotional story about a girl named Ashley, who had to feed and support her

mother at the age of 9 because her mother got cancer. Ashley never thought her “mother’s problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally” (Obama, 2008), instead, she sought out unity and fought against her indifferences. However, it is views contradictory to Ashleys like the reverends, speaking in such anger towards other races or creeds, that will ultimately keep the country stuck in its imperfect state. Obama expresses emotion when he was upset with his own grandmothers racial stereotypes. The “racial or ethnic stereotypes that made [him] cringe” (Obama, 2008). Obama appeals to the majority’s hardships through the effective use of pathos and ethos.

Barack Obama uses the rhetorical method logos to argue his opinions effectively. Everyone should be treated equally according the, uncompleted declaration of independence, and the Christian bible which Obama follows. Hospitals are filled with “whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care” (Obama, 2008). Logically, this is wrong to Obama and he says that America has a monumental “chronic health care crisis” (Obama, 2008) and the racial divide present, must be exterminated in order to solve Country-wide problems, such as health care. He uses ethos effectively when speaking about his impressive past schooling and his journey to where he is now, growing up in a racially divided America.

Obama has a wife “who carries within her the blood of slaves and slave-owners” (Obama, 2008) which he then passes down to his 2 daughters. This diverse family history has created Obama’s character. He highlights how Reverend Jeremiah Wright introduced “Christian Faith” (Obama, 2008) to him. Mr. Barack Obama does not agree with all of Reverend Wright’s views, in fact, he strongly disagrees with many opinions that “denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation” (Obama, 2008). Although having polar opposite opinions to the reverend, Barack Obama “can no more disown him than [he] can [his] white grandmother” (Obama, 2008). Obama uses the rhetorical methods ethos and logos to persuade the audience by presenting his character, ethics, and logic.

Barack Obama effectively uses the rhetorical methods, pathos, ethos, and logos, to convey his message of unity and equality to his audience. Obama’s speech is aimed to inflict the change of political and social views on racial division. He achieves the effective use of pathos from his statements of hope, showcasing the perfecting of the nation throughout the recent history of America. He appeals to the emotions of the audience through the effective use of pathos. By telling a true story about his family and people he considers family, like the reverend, he connects to the audiences emotions.

Obama’s goal of his speech, “A More Perfect Union”, is to get rid of the racial divide that has been preventing the unionizing of America. Obama not only used emotion to persuade his audience, he also used evidence based logic to support his views, such as the history of each generation perfecting the nation, giving Obama hope for the next generation to do good for the nation. Also, Obama uses ethos in order to display his character and what he stands for. Obama successfully connects to his audience through the effective use of rhetorical methods, creating a persuasive speech directed towards the unity of all races and creeds, in the strive for a more perfect America.