Hillary Clinton is definitely one of the most popular presidential aspirants of the Democrat Party. Her experiences as first lady coupled with her extensive service in American politics have given her the strength one needs to run for the highest administrative position in the country. Her charm and direct-to-the-point approach in dealing with issues have earned her enough supporters. However, the speeches and interviews she has had for her campaign are also brilliant proof of her mastery of the art of persuasion.
Propaganda is not bad in itself because it can work to people’s advantages even if the word itself sounds negative (Cross 123). In elections, however, the persuasion techniques of candidates can distract unwary voters of the true issues that need to be discussed. The goal of the candidate is always to convince the audience that he or she has the ability to lead – even if it means fooling people. Clinton can be very persuasive if her listeners are not aware of her techniques. It is very easy to be persuaded by Hillary Clinton because she uses every possible way of convincing her audience that she is the right choice for president.
She is adept in using the English language to boost her chances in winning her readers’ consent to what she says. She even uses different rhetoric styles to lend credibility to her speech. In her speeches before the Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF) in July 2007 and during Super Tuesday, she showed that she can use techniques like name-calling, glittering generalities, plain-folks appeal, argumentum ad populum, argumentum ad hominem, card stacking, and bandwagon to her favor. Clinton opened her speech to the PPAF by using persuasion techniques like transfer and argumentum ad populum.
She acknowledged her friendship with Cecile Richards, president of the organization, and praised her efforts to get the favor of her audience. Clinton used the transfer technique because by associating herself with Richards, she is able to get the confidence of her audience. In doing so, she was also able to use plain-folks appeal because she was also able to connect herself as an advocate of Richards’ principles which shows that she is one with her audience. Clinton used name-calling and glittering generalities often to put emphasis and drama to her claims.
Although she never used name-calling towards any specific person, she used the technique to show what she thought of certain principles of the incumbent administration. She referred to the family planning guidelines as “anti-science, anti-prevention policies” (qtd. in Echevarria 2007 par. 14). She also showed her disgust over new Medicaid rules by name-calling it “burdensome new Medicaid documentation requirements” (par. 22) On the other hand, she used the glittering generalities technique to uplift the egos of her audience by saying that “you are the only place to turn to” (par. ) and “often the ones who are the sole advocates for women” (par. 3).
To charm her audience, Clinton was always finding ways to make the people hear what they wanted to hear through argumentum ad populum. She kept uplifting the audience of PPAF by saying things like, “thank you for your courage, thank you for your dedication, and thank you for your commitment to our Constitutional rights” (par. 4). Her listeners during Super Tuesday were also soothed by her descriptions of them as “moms and dads who want a better world for our children” and “young people who deserve a world of opportunity” (qtd. n The Associated Press 2008 par. 1)
However, her disdain over the Bush administration was never concealed and she was frank enough to use the argumentum ad hominem technique to throw her comments on the prevailing policies of the current government. She describes Bush as “a president who listens only to the special interests” (par. 2) to make her audience think that she is better than he. To show that she had done better in promoting women’s health and better sex education, she accused the current leader of having “played politics with women’s health…and he’s worked to turn Washington, D. C. into an evidence-free zone where facts are subordinate to ideology and opinion. (Echevarria par. 13).
Another popular persuasive technique that candidates like Clinton have used is card stacking wherein the information being divulged during the speech are only those that would support the speaker’s claims. In Echevarria’s transcription of her speech at PPAF, Clinton claimed that unintended pregnancies were cut by one-third from the 1990s to 2000s because of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (par. 16).
Here, she uses the ethos rhetoric style by showing that she has the credibility to lead and have a say in the issue. However, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops who made 23 different studies of the emergency contraception used by the campaign, the plan failed “to achieve any statistically significant reduction in rates of unintended pregnancies and abortion” (Raymond, et. al. 2007 181-188 cited in par. 4) One of the most popular techniques used by all candidates is the bandwagon. Clinton definitely used this technique in her speeches.
For the PPAF, she calls the audience to vote for her by saying “when we take back the White House” (Echevarria par. 25). She also makes the listeners take up her cause by saying, “with good information, good education, and good healthcare we can empower women and girls” (par. 41) On the other hand, she has chosen to use this technique to close her speech on Super Tuesday. She kept using the word “we” to show her solidarity with the people in seeking change in the administration.
Phrases like “we much continue to be a nation that strives always to give each of our children a better future” (The Associated Press par. 3) and “give us this nation to heal, this world to lead, this moment to seize” (par. 24) served to incite powerful emotions among Americans to propel her towards the presidential seat. Clinton loved using the pathos rhetoric style which is an appeal based on the emotion “The Art of Rhetoric” par. 8). She does this by praising and thanking her audience many times within her speeches. In her speech with the PPAF, Clinton also used the logos rhetoric style in making her audience understand how Bush’s policies have become a disadvantage to young women.
She uses references like Mathematica to show that her stance on the poor sex education that teenagers are now getting is correct. Hillary Clinton is a tough presidential candidate because she is very good in using persuasive language to make her audience feel that she is one with them in all their concerns. She uses what she can of the persuasive techniques available and Aristotle’s rhetoric styles to captivate her audience and move them to consider her as the best candidate for the presidency.