Politics of the American Dream essay

Politics of the American Dream essay - Mike Finfer Writing...

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Mike Finfer Writing 140 Jennifer Malia 11.6.06 Assingment 4 American Rhetoric: The Ubiquity of the Idyllic Dream in Modern Politics The American Dream is one of the most pervasive and consistently used rhetorical concepts in contemporary American political discourse. It is one of the founding ideals of American culture, and many consider it to be what fundamentally sets America apart from the rest of the world. Because of this, the concept holds a special significance with Americans that allows it to transcend partisanship; politicians of every devotion build much of their campaigns on trying to convince the public that their policies or platforms will in some way get America closer to its Dream. Different politicians present the American Dream in different ways; some include it with the intent of relating it to the audience on a personal level, while others include it as simply a broad idea that reinforces their ideas on a rhetorical basis. Barack Obama uses the idea of the American Dream to connect with the audience on a personal level and to create a foundation for his specific ideas and principles, while George W. Bush often uses it as a broad concept that has become an overarching theme to much of his rhetoric. At the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Barack Obama’s keynote speech referenced the American Dream in a way that related to his personal life experiences,
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citing examples of how he has been affected by the Dream. He evokes his family’s drive towards the American Dream, in which “[his] father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya…through hard work and perseverance [his] father got a scholarship to study in a magical place, America” (Obama). This is a perfect representation of the archetypal American Dream; an immigrant family that is able to ascend its social status through hard work and dedication. Obama comes from a family that experienced the positive affects of the American Dream firsthand; his story is a perfect example of the upward mobility that is promised with the Dream. In this story, America truly is the “beacon of freedom and opportunity” as Obama describes it. He continues with his story, talking about what the American Dream meant to his grandmother, who “raised a baby and went to work…moved west…in search of opportunity…they too had big dreams for their daughter, a common dream born of two continents” (Obama). Obama is clearly a direct product of the American Dream; it drastically changed the lives of him and his family for the better. Obama makes strong appeals to pathos with his story, creating an emotional response in the audience. The audience feels sympathetic towards his story and the stories of others that he recalls. He speaks of a man “losing his job and chocking back the tears wondering how he would pay $4,500 a months for the drugs his son needs without the health benefits that he counted on” (Obama). This story is included for the sole purpose of triggering an emotional
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Politics of the American Dream essay - Mike Finfer Writing...

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