Change Essay

2586 WordsApr 20, 201511 Pages
Change Politics is influenced and impacted by countless factors. Each day brings along a new set of circumstances for leaders to navigate while trying to achieve their desired ends and effect change. One of the most powerful tools in a leader’s arsenal to help him implement change is the art of public speaking. According to H. Mark Roelofs, “rhetoric, in its broadest political sense, is the content of that whole legitimization process by which the license to power is obtained” (403). Through a cleverly crafted and psychologically masterminded speech, an orator can influence the political climate and bring about change in myriad ways: he can subtly re-shape his audience’s views; declare war and initiate peace; inspire confidence or sow the seeds of doubt; and gain support which will lead to the achievement of his ends or drive the public opinion away from his objectives. Examination of some of the most prolific speeches from United States history will highlight the ability of those who transmitted the messages – Abraham Lincoln, Carrie Chapman Catt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon Baines Johnson – to effect tremendous change through their words. Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is an oratory work of art. In its time, it offered a glimmer of hope for the American public who were still reeling from the Battle of Gettysburg, which had left a combined 50,000 men dead, injured, or missing (Brown 20). However, it did not represent anything more than that. According to Gary Wills, at the time of the actual address, Lincoln was meant to be no more than a second act to the keynote speaker of the night, Secretary of State Edward Everett. Indeed, Wills points out, Lincoln’s three-minute, 272-word address seemingly paled in comparison to Everett’s two-hour, dramatic rhetoric (24). However, in the scope of history, it is Lincoln’s address that is remembered as “The

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