Barack Obama's Speech: To Bend The Arc Of History

Submitted By TheUltimater
Words: 1575
Pages: 7

To Bend the Arc of History
On November 4th2008, Barack Obama was elected to be the President of the United States of America. He held a victory speech in Illinois, after a long and close battle with the representative of the Republican Party, John McCain. He has a plethora of events which America has experienced and new ideas to communicate in his speech, with the speech taking place during much turmoil in the United States. The issues of a “Planet in Peril”, and the Global Financial Crisis give ideas for Obama to address in his speech. His task requires the inspiration of his audience to take action together to cause the change. Obama’s purpose in his speech is to unify America and create action from the people. He is appealing to the people in America as well as republicans because he has to “earn [their] support”. Obama does this successfully with the use of many persuasion techniques. These include metaphors and symbols, references to well known speeches, and the use of repetition. These are used throughout his speech to emphasize main points throughout his speech and create greater meaning. With the use of metaphors and symbols, with the use of references, and with the use of repetition, Barack Obama engages Americans to unite and act for the country.
The purpose of the speech was to unite Americans. In the United States, there are many things which divide the nation. Although the states are united, many stand apart. People from different colour groups have a rich history of differentiation and segregation. Neo-Nazism is not completely gone in America and there are still vicious racists. Another measure of separation is the different parties existent in the United States. This includes the Democratic and Republican Parties. They hold many different views about how the country should be run: from a pro-war, conservative, and a deeply religious view (mostly Republicans) to a pro-peace, liberalist, and change embracing view (mostly Democrats). Obama has the task to show the world that he is going to be the best choice for president in this speech, and to do so he first unites America. He needs to show that America has “never been a collection of red states and blue states.” Then, Obama has to evoke action. The task to cause real change is not his – his task is to excite and encourage real change from the people, for “it cannot happen without [them]”. This must also be broadcasted from his speech. Unity and action are what Obama is trying to promote. This, he promotes to the Americans he serves starting November 4th 2008. They have elected him and expect him to guide them through a very difficult time. Unity and action are also ideas which must be promoted to the world, which is watching his every move. He is now to be the most powerful person on earth. In promoting action and unity, he must live up to and strive to surpass the world’s expectations as well as Americans to hold up the American spirit, the American standard, and the American dream.
Barack Obama used metaphors and symbols in many instances during his victory speech. An idea he tried to communicate included the impact of everyone’s action in the greater view of history. Ordinary people sometimes forget that how tomorrow history is is today. Barack Obama asks ordinary people to “put [their] hands on the arc of history and bend it once more towards the hope of a better day”. This direct appeal to Americans, much like Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech, tells the population to “stop wallowing in despair” (from Martin Luther King Jr.’s Speech) and take action. Americans are motivated by the symbol of change and their hopes heightened by the possibility of such an endeavour. The use of the metaphor also evokes a visual picture which shows progress more graphically. It also reassures that even though we have to take effort to “bend” the arc of history, it can and will be done. Obama states that “America’s beacon still burns bright”. This form of reassurance to the