Rhetoric of the People: Is There Any Better or Equal Hope in the World?

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Surveys show our standing around the world is higher than when I was elected to this office, and when it comes to every important international issue, people of the world do not look to Beijing or Moscow to lead — they call us. As someone who begins every day with an intelligence briefing, I know this is a dangerous time. The Middle East is going through a transformation that will play out for a generation, rooted in conflicts that date back millennia. Economic headwinds blow from a Chinese economy in transition. Even as their economy contracts, Russia is pouring resources to prop up Ukraine and Syria — states they see slipping away from their orbit.

Do you have a good example to share? Add your example here.

And the international system we built after World War II is now struggling to keep pace with this new reality. And that means we have to set priorities. Priority number one is protecting the American people and going after terrorist networks. They use the Internet to poison the minds of individuals inside our country; they undermine our allies.

ISBN 13: 9789062030019

Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks and twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages pose an enormous danger to civilians and must be stopped. But they do not threaten our national existence. We just need to call them what they are — killers and fanatics who have to be rooted out, hunted down, and destroyed.

With nearly 10, air strikes, we are taking out their leadership, their oil, their training camps, and their weapons. We are training, arming, and supporting forces who are steadily reclaiming territory in Iraq and Syria. If this Congress is serious about winning this war, and wants to send a message to our troops and the world, you should finally authorize the use of military force against ISIL. Take a vote. But the American people should know that with or without Congressional action, ISIL will learn the same lessons as terrorists before them.

Ask the leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, who was taken out last year, or the perpetrator of the Benghazi attacks, who sits in a prison cell. When you come after Americans, we go after you. It may take time, but we have long memories, and our reach has no limit. Some of these places may become safe havens for new terrorist networks; others will fall victim to ethnic conflict, or famine, feeding the next wave of refugees.

The world will look to us to help solve these problems, and our answer needs to be more than tough talk or calls to carpet bomb civilians. It says America will always act, alone if necessary, to protect our people and our allies; but on issues of global concern, we will mobilize the world to work with us, and make sure other countries pull their own weight. As we speak, Iran has rolled back its nuclear program, shipped out its uranium stockpile, and the world has avoided another war.

Our military, our doctors, and our development workers set up the platform that allowed other countries to join us in stamping out that epidemic. It cuts 18, taxes on products Made in America, and supports more good jobs. You want to show our strength in this century? Approve this agreement. Give us the tools to enforce it. Fifty years of isolating Cuba had failed to promote democracy, setting us back in Latin America. You want to consolidate our leadership and credibility in the hemisphere?

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Freedom in the World Democracy in Retreat | Freedom House

Recognize that the Cold War is over. Lift the embargo. American leadership in the 21st century is not a choice between ignoring the rest of the world — except when we kill terrorists; or occupying and rebuilding whatever society is unraveling. Leadership means a wise application of military power, and rallying the world behind causes that are right.

It means seeing our foreign assistance as part of our national security, not charity. When we lead nearly nations to the most ambitious agreement in history to fight climate change — that helps vulnerable countries, but it also protects our children. When we help Ukraine defend its democracy, or Colombia resolve a decades-long war, that strengthens the international order we depend upon.

When we help African countries feed their people and care for the sick, that prevents the next pandemic from reaching our shores. And that kind of leadership depends on the power of our example. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith.

It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. And it betrays who we are as a country. That brings me to the fourth, and maybe the most important thing I want to say tonight. The future we want — opportunity and security for our families; a rising standard of living and a sustainable, peaceful planet for our kids — all that is within our reach.

But it will only happen if we work together. It will only happen if we can have rational, constructive debates. It will only happen if we fix our politics. This is a big country, with different regions and attitudes and interests. Our Founders distributed power between states and branches of government, and expected us to argue, just as they did, over the size and shape of government, over commerce and foreign relations, over the meaning of liberty and the imperatives of security. But democracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens.


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Democracy grinds to a halt without a willingness to compromise; or when even basic facts are contested, and we listen only to those who agree with us. Our public life withers when only the most extreme voices get attention. Too many Americans feel that way right now. There are a whole lot of folks in this chamber who would like to see more cooperation, a more elevated debate in Washington, but feel trapped by the demands of getting elected.


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When received in the ear, these effects breeze through us like a harmonious song. When inspected with the eye, these moves become more apparent, like reading a piece of sheet music for a difficult song and finally recognizing the chord changes. Such analysis, while interesting in itself, might be little more than a scholarly curiosity if we were not so concerned with the language issues of political discourse.

The popular opinion is that our current president, though plain spoken, is clumsy with language. Fair or not, this perception has produced a hope that our next president will be a more powerful communicator, a Kennedy or Reagan, perhaps, who can use language less as a way to signal ideology and more as a means to bring the disparate parts of the nation together. Journalists need to pay closer attention to political language than ever before. Like most memorable pieces of oratory, Obama's speech sounds better than it reads.

We have no way of knowing if that was true of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, but it is certainly true of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. If you doubt this assertion, test it out. Read the speech and then experience it in its original setting recited by his soulful voice. The power of allusion and its patriotic associations.

The oratorical resonance of parallel constructions. The "two-ness" of the texture, to use DuBois's useful term. His ability to include himself as a character in a narrative about race.

Stolen Child

Allusion Part of what made Dr. King's speech resonate, not just for black people, but for some whites, was its framing of racial equality in familiar patriotic terms: "This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning, 'My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.

In this tradition, Obama begins with "We the people, in order to form a more perfect union," a quote from the Constitution that becomes a recurring refrain linking the parts of the speech. What comes next is "Two hundred and twenty one years ago," an opening that places him in the tradition of Lincoln at Gettysburg and Dr.

King at the Lincoln Memorial: "Five score years ago. On the first page, Obama mentions the words democracy, Declaration of Independence, Philadelphia convention, , the colonies, the founders, the Constitution, liberty, justice, citizenship under the law, parchment, equal, free, prosperous, and the presidency. It is not as well known as it should be that many black leaders, including Dr. King, use two different modes of discourse when addressing white vs.

Wright's comments. Obama's patriotic lexicon is meant to comfort white ears and soothe white fears. What keeps the speech from falling into a pandering sea of slogans is language that reveals, not the ideals, but the failures of the American experiment: "It was stained by this nation's original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.

He began to make a name for himself politically, arguing that the Greeks should trust their abilities to fight back against Philip, and still more in the Olynthiac speeches in , in which he worked hard to present Philip as a super-villain—themes that recurred even more vehemently in his later public speeches. Demosthenes also participated as ambassador on behalf of the whole city of Athens, in various attempts to negotiate peace with Philip. In , he spoke vehemently in favor of the idea that the most powerful Greek states of the time, Athens and Thebes, ought to form an alliance and hold out against Philip—a policy that was highly controversial at the time, and that accrued further criticisms and recriminations in later years.

The strategy failed, and Philip won at Chaeronea—a rout in which a huge number of the Greek soldiers were slaughtered. But Demosthenes, who fought in the battle along with perhaps six thousand other citizens of Athens, survived. In the aftermath of the battle, Demosthenes encountered biting criticisms from his fellow Athenians. There were the predictable accusations of cowardice at Chaeronea survivors always get a bad rap , and more substantive suggestions that the advice he had given, to hold out for freedom against Philip, actually led to a worse deal for Athens and other Greeks, most notably the Thebans than they might have gotten by more conciliatory rhetoric.

Rhetoric is not just rhetorical