The Start of Reagan's Political Profession and Goldwater's Mission
During the 1964 U.S. official political race for president, Hollywood star and inspirational speaker Ronald Reagan introduced a speech called ‘A Time for Choosing’. The speech raised $1 million for Goldwater’s mission and is viewed as the occasion that kickstarted Reagan’s political profession. Reagan, coming out of Hollywood, obviously knew how to deliver a line. And in this particular speech, he delivers a few good ones. But the cadence and the words are what make this speech a perfect one. He spoke to his listeners as if they are wise. He doesn’t wait for his audience’s cheap applause. He sets out his case and trusts people to understand it.
Even though Goldwater lost the presidency, just four years later, this speech went down as the trigger for the re-rise of Richard Nixon and the Republicans. On October 27th, a huge number of individuals tuned into the National Broadcasting Company TV station for an extremely extraordinary broadcast. Viewers awaited the ‘A Time for Choosing’ speech of Ronald Reagan. Reagan came about in favor of Barry M. Goldwater. Barry Morris Goldwater was a good businessman and five-term U.S. congressperson from Arizona and the Republican Party’s contender for President in the 1964 political race. Even though Goldwater lost the presidency, just four years later, this speech went down as the trigger for the re-rise of Richard Nixon and the Republicans.
“A Time for Choosing” was very effective because, throughout his speech, he used a number of rhetorical techniques including style, distribution, pathos, logos, and ethos. He uses a unique style to express his argument at the beginning of his speech. He starts off immediately with a clear and precise tone, but his assortment of words indicates an awareness of concern. In this speech, Reagan’s tone is serious and influential. He wants the people to understand his beliefs and how he feels about his opinions. He believes that his thoughts are what will keep the nation going and that these beliefs must be expressed to the audience in the hope of being understood. He offers the audience examples of how government interference affects Americans and also references to past times, such as the revolution and how the founding fathers did not want a big government. He shares that he has ‘an awkward feeling that this prosperity is not something on which our hopes for the future are based.’ Reagan’s ability to communicate with his audience was unique and unlike that of many of his colleagues.
The style of Reagan expresses a clear concern for the future, yet an optimistic hope he sees in Barry Goldwater for change. His inspiring style makes it easier for him to engage with the citizens of America. ‘A Time For Choosing’ was an almost thirty-minute long speech. With no intermissions, no change of scene, or PowerPoint presentations, Reagan delivered his speech to break the drudgery of a long speech; one might wonder how someone can hold an audience’s attention for such an extended amount of time. By creating emotional change within the hearts and minds of his listeners, Reagan accomplished this. One minute, he informs them that due to the financial crisis, Kansas was ‘declared a depressed’ region, tugging on the heartstrings of the audience. The next minute, while belittling the government, he has the audience crying out of laughter, saying, ‘When the government tells you that you’re depressed, lie down and be depressed.’ Reagan uses repetition to emphasize a connection between himself and his audience towards the end of the speech. Reagan used ‘You and I’ four times in the last three paragraphs of the speech.
The use of ‘You and I’ helps the audience feel included and makes them think they have the same beliefs and views as Reagan. ‘The most famous line from the speech is perhaps ‘You and I have a rendezvous with destiny”. People are motivated by the speech, as Reagan offers the American people hope for their future and the future of their children. His use of repetition conveys to us that ‘we have the ability and dignity and the right to make our own decisions and to decide our own destiny.’
Repetition is a strong rhetorical tool exercised by Reagan to stress the unity of the American people. Reagan left his audiences waiting for more. He would reveal and then create a solution to a problem. Reagan is capable of breaking part of the solid base of the ‘once believed’ strong foundation U.S. government. Exposing faults within the current government He also reveals how the government’s greediness is leaking into the minds of other Americans. Reagan teaches us that these problems are not the people, but the collective, and there are ways around that. Reagan uses pathos when he addresses the recent escalation in Vietnam. He said, “As for the peace that we would preserve, I wonder who among us would like to approach the wife or mother whose husband or son has died in South Vietnam and ask them if they think this is a peace that should be maintained indefinitely. Do they mean peace, or do they mean we just want to be left in peace?”. Reagan used this story of the grieving mother and wife to link the danger of communism to the life of liberty. He continues to say that ‘there can be no real peace while one American is dying for the rest of us somewhere in the world.’ In an emotional story, Reagan effectively links our need for an interventionist foreign policy that will challenge communism wherever it exists in the world in order to achieve peace. The audience will respond positively to the emotional story because they can connect with the struggles of the military families of our nation empathically. The use of pathos by Reagan allows him to relate to his audience. They understand that he has the same foreign policy concerns as ordinary Americans.
“There is no foundation like the rock of honesty and fairness, and when you begin to build your life on that rock, with the cement of the faith in God that you have a real start.” He represents the picture of a man who wants to see his son excel, which most parents share. To argue for economic conservatism, Reagan used logos. Through a combination of facts, figures, and reasoning, Reagan makes a commonsense argument about the economic reality of the fiscal policy of our nation. Reagan also uses logos to inform Americans of the injustices laid down by the present government. “We’ve raised our debt limit three times in the last twelve months, and now our national debt is one and a half times bigger than all the combined debts of all the nations of the world.” He states that “our government continues to spend 17 million dollars a day more than the government takes in. We haven’t balanced our budget 28 out of the last 34 years…. and now our national debt is one and a half times bigger than all the combined debts of all the nations of the world”. Through common sense and facts, individuals clearly recognize that the government spending of our nation is unsustainable.
Reagan is capable of communicating effectively to the American people that the nation is in dire financial straits. Focus of Reagan on the problems makes him seem both logical and intelligent to people. His ethos appeal is an effective method that Regan uses to sell his ability. It is obvious that the primary objective of his speech is to portray a good character. Throughout his speech, Regan utilizes this appeal with direct explanation, religious and moral references, or an obvious tone thrown over a moral declaration, and he uses it well. A major theme in this speech is the concern about the general course of the nation in terms of foreign relations. By comparing’ the ant heap of totalitarianism with the democracy of the United States, Regan weighs freedom and protection. He does this to paint his critics of democracy in a manner that demonstrates a vulnerability to weakness. This is like suggesting that if elected, his critics are more likely to appease than protect against an intrusive attack. To condemn and connect all the negative things he explains to his rival when describing these possibilities, Regan uses an obvious tone of voice. For many years to come, ‘A Time for Choosing’ will remain powerful and memorable. With this speech, Regan makes a superb argument. He applies to the audience multiple sound appeals and does so in a skilled way. He makes it appear as if he is the obvious choice by reeling his audience in with a simple logical argument and then promoting Barry Goldwater as a solution in a commonsense manner. While the election was won by Lyndon B. Johnson, A Time for Choosing by Ronald Regan did extremely well for the Goldwater campaign and is an excellent example of argumentative rhetoric.
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