Rhetorical Strategies In Bernie Sanders’ Outline Vision Of Democratic Socialism 

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If there was ever a moment where people have to effectively analyze the competing political and social forces which explain this ancient period, this is that time. Bernie Sanders, a politician, called for the “21st Century Bill of Rights” during the 2019 Iowa Democratic Wing Ding (CBS News, 2019). Sanders begins building his credibility with particular circumstances and reliable sources, citing statistics, and successfully employing emotional appeals; however, after the beginning of the speech, his goal to convince his listeners was weakened because of too many hand gestures that distracted the listeners.

In his speech, Sanders first sets the stage by making strong statements that grabbed the attention of his audience. He continues by discussing oligarchy and authoritarianism and their effects on the country, especially on the people. Posing a possible solution to the problem, Sanders made his stand to push through Roosevelt’s Democratic Socialism. According to him, to accomplish the goal, people should commit themselves to protect political rights, civil rights, and the economic rights of all the people in this country.

Throughout his piece, Sanders uses many strong sources that strengthen his credibility and appeal to ethos, as well as build his reasoning. These sources include, “President Franklin Roosevelt’s 1936 campaign speech,” “Former Democratic New York Governor and Presidential Candidate Al Smith’s 1936 speech about FDR’s New Deal Policies,” “1960 Ronald Reagan’s letter to Richard Brenner,” “President Harry Truman,” and “1944 economic Bill of Rights”. Citing these sources boosts Sanders’ credibility by providing facts, as well as strong opinions to support his claim. He also uses the current state of the country and the people to introduce and support Democratic Socialism, which shows he is involved in problems and he cares about what is happening around him.

Sanders later presents logos with a lot of statistics and ideas. In his speech, he points out that the United States must reject the hatred and divisiveness of people, instead find the moral conviction to choose a different path, a higher path, a path of compassion, justice, and love. It is the path that he calls Democratic Socialism. These facts introduce and support the idea that Sanders wants Democratic Socialism for the country. He continues with statistics:

About three families control more wealth than the bottom half of our country, some 160 million Americans. The top 1% own more wealth than the bottom 92% and 49% of all new income generated today goes to the top 1%. Today, nearly 40 million Americans live in poverty, and tonight, 500,000 people will be sleeping out on the streets. About half of the country lives paycheck to paycheck as tens of millions of our people are in an accident, a divorce, a sickness, or a layoff away from economic devastation. (Golshan, 2019)

Statistics like these support his claim that Democratic Socialism is the solution. The details and numbers build an appeal to logos and impress upon the listener that the problem needs to be solved before it is too late.

Along with strong logos appeals, Sanders effectively makes appeals to pathos in the beginning and ending part of his speech. His speech is full of statements that make the listeners emotional. Starting his speech with situations observed around the community, he can grab his listeners’ attention and emotions. His speech creates sympathetic images that make it effectively introduce the argument and the problem.

In terms of his verbal languages like his tone, emphasis on words, word choice, and clarity is a job well done. He has all the facts and statistics, a logical manner of thinking, and the heart that makes him an effective speaker. However, his non-verbal language discredited his speech. Gesturing too much even if it is not necessary weakened his effectiveness as a speaker since it distracts his audiences. His appeal to ethos, logos, and pathos created his image as a good speaker that makes the listeners ignore his overuse of hand gestures. Sanders meant that if there are moments that we want to change in our lives, that time is now.   

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