One who wants to be a respectable president must announce their true intentions for helping the country and society, which is generally called an inaugural speech. Usually the intended audience is stated throughout the speech of the individual. Inspiring leaders, Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy, explained their visions to the American people in their first inaugural address. Although both of the president’s speeches had a similar purpose, obscure differences exist that allow one speech to have a greater impact than the other.
Both JFK and Reagan’s address shared a similar appeal to strengthen the status of freedom within society from the arbitrary restrictions imposed on one’s way of life, actions, or political views by government. According to Kennedy, America must “pay any price” in order to “assure the survival and the success of liberty.” While Reagan wanted to “curb the size and influence of the Federal establishment”. Limiting the government’s power correlates with how Kennedy wanted to extend democracy and liberty by making society more autonomous and self-driven. Both leaders tried to inspire their populace to participate and strive for a greater cause, fostering a strong sense of nationalism that would empower people across the country.
The majority of American people were motivated by JFK’s speech, rather than Reagan’s. JFK began his inaugural speech by praising America and making people proud of their place of residence by using positive diction and in doing so, Kennedy became able to immediately persuade people with his well-considered plan to be on his side. However, unlike the address made by Kennedy, Reagan opened his presentation by thanking his country and then immediately announced “economic ills” that can lead to disaster within America such as the “tax burden”, “unemployment” rates , and “inflation”. When he started by pointing out the challenges, he shattered people’s thoughts about living in such an amazing country that would ultimately make it difficult to convince people to be on board with his project due to the negative diction he used.
Despite this difference, Reagan was still able to strengthen his argument using parallelism just as Kennedy did. In Kennedy’s speech, he enforces “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country” which supports the ideology that people need to do more for what they want to achieve. This particular quotation sets a very stern tone, appealing to his audience’s emotions by making them want to get up immediately and start advocating for change. On the other hand, Reagan contrasts his beliefs when he states, “I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing.” Raegan’s argument also introduces parallelism, which clearly helps to clarify the result of taking action. Both quotes were set up to encourage their particular audience to bring about change without focusing on Federal assistance.
Both speeches appeal to the sympathies and imagination of their audience, which influences their listeners to stand by them. John F Kennedy seems to appeal to his audience’s emotions the best as he exposes the contrast between perception and reality. As he makes pledges to many nations and different groups of people, he ends his sentence with “because it is right.” This raises a variety of personal questions in the audience, such as what does a certain individual view as “right”. This is where people stand back and question their own perception of the word “right” as Kennedy continues to show it’s reality. Kennedy also repeats the phrase “Let both sides”, which creates a sense of togetherness and explains that no matter what side one is on, actions have consequences. This also gets his audience thinking, thinking about what they should do to help the nation out of it’s overflowing mess. Similar to Kennedy, Raegan also appeals to his audience’s emotions as he questions “if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?”. This question introduces many other questions in his audience about the effect of being controlled by the government and that is what he wants. Ronald Reagan is trying to influence the minds of others to show that the government has “no power” except the power Americans give to it by relying on it. Reagan also passes out responsibility onto his citizens by labeling them as “heroes”, which influences individuals to advocate for change as they feel responsible to help their nation.
Although both inaugural speeches addressed the cause and effect of taking immediate action, John F Kennedy’s was more persuasive. JFK’s speech was more effective as he concentrated a lot on his claim. It was more compelling than Reagan’s rhetorical questions and mentioned metaphors because parallelism emphasizes a point, and JFK’s statements used much more parallelism than Raegan did. Given their distinction, the addresses by JFK and Ronald Reagan both tried to emphasize that America is not at its best, and that it can be significantly improved. By using various rhetorical devices, both presidents develop their claim to emphasize the point that America could be a better country with the help of it’s people or in other words their intended audience.