Political leadership often determines the success and accomplishments of a country. U.S senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, believes in a nation of wealth equality where the political leaders are chosen based on rationality and not manipulation.
Sanders’ commencement speech to the Brooklyn College graduates of 2017, Don’t ‘Allow Demagogues to Divide Us’, is a speech where the core focus is to communicate and convince his audience of his democratic political views. He does this by criticizing the current state of the nation and politicians.
Throughout the speech, Sanders uses a range of rhetorical features to support his arguments, engage with his audience and state his intention.
From the beginning, it is evident that Bernie Sanders tries to engage with the receivers of the speech by positioning himself as equal to his audience.
This is evidenced when he uses flashbacks to talk about his upbringing. Here, he creates similarities between him and his audience by referring to them as ‘my friends’ and repeating ‘Brooklyn’ several times as well as lowering his position accordingly.
“As with many families who don’t have a lot of money, financial pressures caused friction and tension 1 within our household.”.
This is an exemplification of how Sanders makes himself relatable to his audience by creating a convincing narrative. By doing this, he seeks sympathy since he intentionally communicates his message in a more substantial way.
Additionally, the quote illustrates how Sanders, when talking about economic and financial issues, utilizes a range of negative adjectives. This is done to encourage rage in the audience towards the existing political situation.
Furthermore, Sanders engages with the receivers of his speech by creating an antagonistic relationship between the ‘demagogues’, the oligarchy, and him and his audience. “(...) we must never allow demagogues to divide 2 us up by race, by religion, by national origin, by gender or sexual orientation.”.
Through this, he creates a sense of belonging with his audience which eventually makes him a more reliable speaker. By speaking to his audience in such a way, he manages to persuade them towards his own political and human standpoints as a democrat.