Barack Obama - revive the ancient art of rhetoric

President Barack Obama succeeded in his democratic campaign in a very large part through the use of well crafted and accessible speeches. They have remained a key feature of his Presidential Office. We are honing in on a single and crucial 17 minute speech to illustrate the important features of his rhetoric. Whilst Barack Obama is not a preacher, the justification for including this appendix is that, particularly in this speech, he demonstrates possibly the best contemporary practice of the ancient art of rhetoric and provides a good example of how to communicate succinctly, clearly and well. Hence, there are principles for communicators of all kinds, which of course, include preachers.

A turning point

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

So began a speech which I believe will be remembered as a turning point in history. It was the given on the night Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States of America on November 4th, 2008 in Chicago. School students and rhetoriticians of the future will examine these carefully crafted words with the same reverence already attached to other great and memorable speeches. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech was delivered on 28th August 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington and is hailed as a turning point the battle for racial equality in US southern states.  Barack Obama.pdf