Running for political office, never mind the highest office in the land, creates an opportunity for any candidates to be placed under rigorous scrutiny. That what might once be considered miniscule becomes more paramount in importance for whomever becomes the President of the United States. In the 2008 Presidential election, Barack Obama encountered his fair share of opposition and obstacles like any candidate. As a Democratic Party candidate, and potentially being the first African-American president, Obama was faced with countless issues regarding race since the inception of his campaign. Obama did not let his race become an overshadowing factor in his journey to better the country. Obama’s chose to surpass race during his campaign, rather he was more fixated on America’s similarities instead of its differences.
On March 18, 2008 Obama delivered a speech called A More Perfect Union, he captivated our nation by illustrating how that the idea of the American dream is tainted by this nation’s original sin of slavery which lead to the division and racial inequality that this country still faces1. Obama was conscious about the delivery of his speech. His ultimate audience is the American population, majority being the voters. However, he first uses this speech as a way to defend himself from the controversial remarks reverend Jeremiah Wright made about how “We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back into our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost’1. Wright’s political views are in contrast with Obama; therefore, it was important for him to denounce those comments because these comments were widening the racial divide in America. In his speech, A More Perfect Union Obama employs three rhetorical strategies appealing to his audiences’ emotions, ethics, and logic to reveal the intention of his speech which was to bring peace and unity.
To begin, Obama appeals to his audience emotions through the use of his personal background. In the article Race, Multiraciality, and Barack Obama: Toward a More Perfect Union? It mentions how certain black public figures, notably does running for political offices tends to avoid the topic of race in order to gain electoral vote from a whiter audience2. However, Obama’s message from this speech does not show favoritism of the race. Although he is deeply rooted from the motherland as well as the African American community, he is not defined by it. He’s ability to draw on his racial whiteness has granted him the capability to bridge the racial divide even though he has to do it cautiously. He urges the nation to break from this racial impasse that the country has been stuck in for years. He argues that we are a melting pot, that we should work on uniting us together rather than to separate and ostracizes one another. He appeals to both party that race has an impact on both blacks and whites. Some whites are affected by it in the sense that they are paying for the faults of their ancestors and blacks although while it is understandable to behaves similar to the likes of reverend Wright it will not solve the ongoing issues of race in America.
In addition, to Obama emotional appeal to the audience, he pleas the ethics side of the crowd through the use of his personal life. Obama captures the crowd by integrating the fact that he is the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. He reminds the American people that his white mother and grandparents raised. He has endured his fair share of discrimination throughout his life, yet he has overcome it. Obama believes that there’s still hope for America because a person like himself can have the chance to potentially hold the highest office in the land. He is the embodiment of race that seeks to transform the nation’s common future. Furthermore, this article goes a step further to support Obama’s argument expressing that the Americas have been the site of unprecedented combinations of ethnicities, Africans, Europeans, Asians and immigrants from all around the globe2. Sharing his personal background added credibility to the point he was trying to make.
Lastly, Obama appeals to the audience’s reason on several occasions by drawing logical conclusions based on past and current historical facts. Obama is able to acknowledge that both sides of the argument involving race has an equal validity, while trying to find a logical solution for these issues. Obama effectively uses logos by presenting the argument surrounding race in a neutral way. He points out that anger and bitterness that African American carry with them is because America is consistently reminding them that slavery is not fully abolished, and that white America still has a sense of superiority. While simultaneously recognizing that white America often exude anger because to them as far as they’re concerned, they have worked to attain their American dream, and no one has handed them anything. Obama implores the audience and white America to consider that the hurt that the African American experience does not solely resides in their minds, but it is a continuous legacy of discrimination. From this approach the audience can approach the topic of racism through a subjective and objective lens.
In conclusion, former president Obama argues against the everlasting racial climate that exist within American society. He hopes that he’s speech will begin a healing process through the turbulent racial tension within America by appealing to our nation’s emotions, ethics and logics.