Britton Alexander

This article details two speeches made by Romney and Obama in Washington, D.C. The speeches were made two days apart and outlined “their visions for the nation’s future.” With careful inspection, one can see the different rhetorical styles the two candidates employed.

Following Morgan Marietta’s ideas in this article, Romney was using sacred language. Characterized by absolutist, non-consequential, non-negotiable ideas, sacred language applies “established principles and boundaries to a given situation and then privileges these principles over the consequences.” This sacred language can be seen in Romney’s condemnation of  “the government takeover of health care.” Limited governmental power is an established principle within the Republican party and Romney’s policies. Romney also spoke of restoring “values of economic freedom, opportunity, and small government”, which are a focus on the “moral ends”. He takes an absolutist view when saying, “this is not the time for President Obama’s hid and seek campaign,” giving no leniency to the consequences of this type of campaign.

In contrast, Obama took a more consequentialist approach to his rhetoric and focused on facts and outcomes, instead of relying on principles. This included his discussion of Romney’s support for The Ryan plan and its consequences of destroying a $2 trillion cut in the federal deficit. He elaborated on the facts and possible consequences of the GOP House budge plans. Finally, he made an extremely consequentialist comment and said. “there has to be some balance. All of us have to do our fair share.” According to Marietta, non-sacred political rhetoric does not deny the legitimacy of compromise. It embraces it if the consequences will be better.

These two speeches align with Marietta’s ideas of sacred and non-sacred communication. Within her article, she also states, “the Republic form of rhetoric emphasizes boundaries, protected values, and the citation of authority. Democratic candidates on the other hand, tend to prefer the logic of consequences and bounds.” These two speeches clearly demonstrate this concept.


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