Michelle Obama 2016 Democratic Speech

The political speech that I choose to analyze is of Michelle Obama at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. In this speech, Michelle Obama speaks at the convention to inspire, persuade, garner support and justify why she believes Hilary Clinton is best suited for the job of President of the United States. As pointed out by the authors, the postmodern Presidency is focused on image (Denton & Kuypers, 2008). The role of the Presidency is the highest leadership position for the US. This role consists of an ongoing and expanding role that creates expectation, establishes and restricts a certain set of behavior, symbolism and rhetorical communication (Denton & Kuypers, 2008). The convention phase of the presidential campaign is a TV event and serves to legitimize the party nomination and nomination process, it allows the party to show unity, establish and showcase the party principles and provides a platform for the nominee to communicate their agenda and position. The news media determines the length and tone of the coverage and judges and interprets the impact to project nominee viability (Denton & Kuypers, 2008). The primary audience for this speech is the attendees at the DNC as well as the viewers watching at home.

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Michelle specifically speaks to the democratic women and mothers who can related to being a woman and the obstacles women have overcame to get to this point in history. She refers to the slogan, “I’m with her” (NewsHour, 2016). This slogan was used as a campaign phrase to publicize and advertise support for Hilary Clinton, a woman running for the United States Presidency. In lieu of all of the misogyny, sexual assault and sexist claims that Donald Trump either communication or was accused of, this was a response for women to not only show support for Hilary but express their discontent and offense of Trumps past behavior and actions. As Michelle states the characteristic traits of Barack Obama, she frames a comparable picture to Hilary Clinton and the similar traits and background she has demonstrated in the various leadership roles she has had. Leaders should be a role model and set the example of how they wish others would act.

A successful leader will also have a vision and direction for the future. Also, a leader will encourage and inspire to enable others to act, as well as challenge the status quo and the current process (Denton & Kuypers, 2008). The Presidency serves as a symbolic figure. It is more than a job but carries behavioral expectations and restrictions with it (Denton & Kuypers, 2008). This is the basis of Michelle’s speech in defining the position of the Presidency, reminding the audience of the outgoing President’s character and relating the similarities, the desired and expected attributes to Hilary Clinton, while at the same time expressing the contrast and describing the negative and unfavorable mannerisms and character to Donald Trump. As stated by the authors, the result of a successful convention will lead to increased fund raising. By the time of the convention, the candidate image has been established and the voters have mostly decided who they are going to support (Denton & Kuypers, 2008).

In this election, because of the controversy and investigation of emails, the negative rhetoric communicated by Trump and the media during the campaign, the image of Hilary Clinton needed to be re-framed and reinforced to educate and persuade voters. In this speech to endorse Hilary Clinton as Presidential candidate for the 2016 Presidential election, former First Lady, Michelle Obama, who is a friend of Hilary Clinton and who has worked with Hilary Clinton has been campaigning on her behalf to persuade and gain votes. As the Democratic former first lady, she uses her platform and experience to draw support for Hilary. She targets women and more specifically, mothers to garner support. Michelle Obama starts out her speech speaking on when she last spoke at the Democratic National Convention on why she believed her husband should be the next President of the United States.

She spoke of her experience as the First Lady of the White House and how her husband, the President of the United States, Barack Obama demonstrated the traits required and essential to be President of the US. She talks about the character and decency of Barack Obama. She reminisce on her daughters growing up in the White House. She brings up the hateful attacks of Barack’s citizenship, race and ethnicity, the cruel hateful language used against him. She details the how this could affect their daughters and how what is being portrayed on television affects all children. Young black children, seeing their image in the White House and all children in this country and images they see from the White House. She points out what’s really at stake is who has the power to shape our children for the next four to eight years. She paints the picture of young children and how they are watching and processing what they see. What she implies is that we as voters are not voting based on the two parties of Democrat or Republican but we’re voting on ideals of what the United States of America represents. She is reaching out beyond the party system.

What we are teaching our children? Are we teaching them that cruel, intolerant, hateful behavior is acceptable? By focusing on the future generation this impacts the audience as well as current Democrats and Hilary Clinton supporters to think about their own children and what values and beliefs they want their children to grow up in. She communicates this vision for the audience and viewers to think about. Michelle meticulously frames the image of Hilary so the audience can resonate with it. The definition of framing is “a way to manage meaning by highlighting aspects of subject while excluding the other sections” (Denton & Kuypers, 2008). By framing her image based on values and characteristic traits that have been demonstrated, without mentioning Donald Trump, she gives the audience a visual picture of what has been the standard and what is not the standard and considered acceptable behavior for the role of the Presidency.

Framing is not limited to being communicated verbally but can be visually as well. As stated by the authors Denton and Kuyper’s, framing involves defining the problem, diagnosing the cause, making a moral judgment and suggesting memories. Michelle does this in her approach to compare and contrast between Clinton and Trump. In her speech, Michelle claims to the audience, in spite of all of the cruel, hateful, negative language and behavior “When they go low, we go high” (NewsHour, 2016). This phrase has resonated with many people and has been repeated many times since this speech. This has probably been the most repeated phrase in regards to not only citizens referring to negative political rhetoric but in life in general as a rule to overcome and deal with negative, hateful incidents that occur in our lives. Even T-shirts with this phrase is very popular. This statement made by Michelle Obama was probably the pinnacle of her speech.

As she announces her support for Hilary Clinton, also a mother who has raised children, who has raised a successful daughter, she gives examples of how Hilary has demonstrated her care and concern for children, children programs health care for children. Michelle addresses how Hilary has spent decades to make a difference in children lives by advocating as a Lawyer, First Lade and Senator. She speaks of Hilary’s temperament when she did not win the 2008 election. Her service was bigger than the Presidential position and how she continued to serve as Secretary of State. She spoke on the negative rhetoric based on Hilary’s personal and physical traits. Without verbally comparing her to Donald Trump, she compares between Hilary and Trump. She points out Hilary’s positive attributes compared to Trumps negative acts and comments that have been displayed. She reinforces unity, morals, determination and persistence as Hilary’s character traits. She returns to the message of leaving something for our kids. As Michelle puts it, the story of the US as she lists several violent incidents throughout the country and how people came together in spite of these horrific acts. She reminds the audience how people in bondage from pushed on in hope so she and her daughters can now live in the White House that was built by slaves and because of Hilary Clinton, this generation of children can now conceive of the idea that a woman can be President of the United States. Here she makes the audience aware and appreciative of this fact.

At this point, she is catering to the women in the audience and viewers. Michelle brings her speech to a close by referring to Donald Trump’s slogan without actually saying the exact phrase, that America is already great. The examples she previously listed reminded the audience what and how everyday US citizens have shown their resilience, concern and patriotism for the country in daily acts even in the midst of a crisis. She reminds the audience to not be persuaded by the rhetoric of this country going in the wrong direction. She encourages the audience to get in involved with the same intensity and effort as they did in 2004 and 2008 with the election of then candidate Barack Obama. In this speech, Michelle Obama’s tone starts out as nostalgic, compassionate and confident. As she proceeds further with her speech, she becomes enthusiastic and inspirational. Michelle is direct and honest and delivers a powerful speech that not only ignites the audience but resonates with them, especially the women who are mothers. She delivers an at times, emotional speech that is relatable to across genders, race and age. In relation to the Clintons raising daughters in the White House, she tells the audience about her own personal experience and what concerns she had raising two young daughters in the White House and what they would endure as attacks against their father persisted.

Michelle repeatedly mentioned her daughters and how our children will be affected by the outcome of the election. The communication techniques used in Michelle’s speech, involve a variety of techniques and methods. Michelle starts her speech with storytelling. She tells the audience the story of how 8 years ago she spoke at the DNC about why her husband should be the next US President. She reminding the audience of his character traits that he displayed along with their daughters and the influence living in the White House had on them. Michelle wanted the audience to resonate with her as a mother and wife. She repeatedly spoke on the issue of moral values, decency and character. Using Barack as the example of the presence that has been in the White House and the correlation between Obama and Hilary Clinton’s experience, dedication and determination, overcoming obstacles and remaining steadfast. She also uses a logical approach to connect the traits of Barack Obama with the same traits as Hilary Clinton and at the same time, contrast Hilary’s positive traits with the negative traits that has been shown by Donald Trump. Throughout Michelle’s speech, as stated key words and phrases such as values, belief system, our children, perseverance, proven ability, direction and character are used. The correlation between these qualities and the role and job description of the Presidency are expressed. The political context of this speech is to draw support for the 2016 Presidential candidate, Hilary Clinton.

As previously stated, in my opinion, there was much more negative media coverage of Hilary Clinton during the campaign. After doing some additional research, the statistics show that the media coverage affected Hilary more negatively than it did for Trump. The media coverage was more for Trump than Clinton. In this coverage, Trump had more opportunities to express his views and voice negative views of Hilary. Patterson revealed that Trump received 15% more coverage than Clinton (Patterson, 2016). “Lock her up” and “make America great again” were heard more often in the news than “he’s unqualified” and “stronger together.” (Patterson, 2016) Due to the uneven and to some unfair coverage of Hilary Clinton, the campaign needed to consistently address the image and experience of Clinton. During the DNC, Michelle Obama did exactly that. The underlining message of Michelle Obama’s speech is about the type of leader that the citizens of the US should vote for is a leader that is guided and driven by the hopes and dreams for the children and future generations. She makes a stark contrast of Hilary’s character, accomplishment raising a successful daughter, her commitment and dedication to helping children and her experience in various roles as a lawyer and in public service as compared to Trump in regards to moral values. Michelle never mentions Donald Trumps’ name but does refer to his character and behavior often. Michelle goal in this speech is to draw a contrast between Clinton and Trump.

I believe her speech was empowering and inspirational. At the time, I feel it was effective in carrying out her message to the democratic base population. We now know that 52% of white women voted for Donald Trump (Buncombe & Sims, 2016). So as for the effectiveness of the speech based on the results of the election, would prove to be ineffective. Looking at the speech itself, it served a purpose to highlight the character, accomplishments and experience of Hilary Clinton. Michelle Obama has endured negative, racists, sexist comments, attacks and portrayals herself and overcame those obstacles. Despite these attacks, she held 65% favorable ratings throughout Barack Obama’s Presidency (Clement, 2016). In my opinion, many women relate to Michelle and hold her in high regard, I know I do. She’s my shero, especially when I watched her workout video where she was doing bench press with 35 pound dumbbells! Focusing back to the speech, Michelle was able to communicate to the audience and provide a description of what’s required to be President of the United States.

Presidential communication and the rhetorical aspect of the presidency serves as the symbol of the institution and the person (Denton & Kuypers, 2008). The six functions of the job description of the President includes: symbolic leadership, setting national priorities, crises management, legislation and political coalition building, program implementation and evaluation and oversight of government routines (Denton & Kuypers, 2008). Michelle was able to address each of these functions in her speech. In regards to symbolic leadership, he spoke of Hillary’s desire to inspire the next generation of boys and girls to reach beyond their circumstances by the example she has set. She pointed out her life- long passion working on the behalf of children and healthcare in bringing public attention to national priorities. She addressed her role as Secretary of State and the role she played in effectively and confidently handling crisis. Building coalition through serving in several positions and working across party lines. As First Lady, Hilary first brought attention by introducing program implementation for healthcare for children.

Based on vast experience, her ability to be responsible for governmental performances at all levels. She spoke on the story of this country, the fabric of the American people to unite and rise above tragedy. Telling the story of the past and how far we have come as a country socially and politically, inclusive of all created equal and the strength in togetherness. The people who were under bondage and servitude but kept striving. How Hilary understands that this country is about leaving something for our children (NewsHour, 2016). The image of Hilary Clinton becoming the first woman President of the United States and her resilience to continue to persevere and continue to break the glass ceiling is the story of this country. Her speech was passionate, persuasive, direct and inspiring. She made it clear of her support for Hilary Clinton and why she believed in her abilities as the next President of the United States. She also stressed the importance of getting people to engage in the voting process. Michelle appealed to the citizens to put the same effort in voting and getting others registered to vote as they did in 2008 and 2012.The crowd was emotional, inspired, excited and revved up by Michelle’s speech. 

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Michelle Obama 2016 Democratic Speech. (2021, Dec 29). Retrieved May 26, 2022 , from
https://studydriver.com/michelle-obama-2016-democratic-speech/

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