Hillary Clinton’s speech after winning the primaries was celebratory in nature, but she also took time to address her opponents and critics. I am always particularly interested in how politicians appeal to voters that do not initially support their candidacy. Hillary Clinton, in cinching the Democratic nomination, places herself in a precarious position. Running against Bernie Sanders, and the passionate following he developed, placed her under a great deal of scrutiny from fellow Democrats. To have to convince your own party to vote for you is not as easy as it may seem.
In my opinion Hillary Clinton needs to appeal to two primary groups: socially liberal republicans, and Sanders’ supporters. While this is not simple – the rhetoric in her speech manages to appeal to the logos of both groups because these two groups have an overlap: they are socially progressive voters. Social issues are distinctly tied to one’s values and beliefs. These observations bring me to my guiding question…
What is the role of values and belief in the logical appeal to socially progressive voters?
In asking this question we can hopefully better understand how Clinton can win the election by appealing to a wider voter population. I’d like to focus my exploration of this question with the speech Clinton gave after receiving the Presidential nomination from the Democratic Party. The transcript of the speech is available here with my annotations, and the video is available below.
My annotations brought me to a somewhat vague conclusion as to why Hillary Clinton chose to direct logical appeals to Sanders supporters and republicans. The arguments that Clinton makes are premised in the values and beliefs that these voters hold. I believe she views a value charged connection as the first step to coming to an understanding on policy. She wants to show voters that she has the same ultimate goals as voters, just a different way of accomplishing them. Sanders supporters specifically agree on a lot of the same things as the Clinton candidacy, the difference is in how they hope to accomplish the goals, and to what extent. For the voters to trust Clinton, and believe her heart is in the right place, is half the battle. Republican voters are a bit more complicated, as the goals may not necessarily overlap as precisely. However Hillary Clinton capitalized on Trump’s isolating beliefs, statements, and candidacy, to show these voters that she is the morally constant choice.
Of course when you get close to answering one question you are left with many more. My hypothesis that this speech was a building block to further discuss policy is yet to be explored. I wonder if her public appearances and rhetoric drifted away from logical appeal, and more towards pathetical and ethical appeals? I wonder how Clinton will continue to infuse her rhetoric with value and belief in the future? How did Bernie Sanders’ endorsement influence her rhetoric, and how did he appeal to his supporters in his endorsement? I wonder if this speech successfully brought more voters in, or at least opened up a dialogue of possibility? How does the “Hierarchy of Values” as defined by Perelman and Tyteca play a role in Clinton’s candidacy? Is logos an effective appeal for all candidates, or is it’s success specifically tied to Clinton’s femininity. Perhaps most importantly I wonder what appeal is most effective with voters overall: ethos, pathos, or logos?