Appealing to the Masses

Great Orator, 1944 by Irving Norman

Great Orator, 1944 by Irving Norman

As we near the end of what may be the longest and most contentious election in US history, I have been thinking a lot about something I read in my college English Composition textbook (which I still have after all these years). It was in a section explaining how rhetoric is used to appeal to a crowd of people, and the importance of using key words that tap into the fears and prejudices of the audience. Anyway, here is the quote:

The streets of our country are in turmoil. The universities are filled with students rebelling and rioting. Communists are seeking to destroy our country. Russia is threatening us with her might, and the public is in danger. Yes, danger from within and without. We need law and order. Yes, without law and order our nation cannot survive. Elect us, and we shall by law and order be respected among the nations of the world. Without law and order our republic shall fall.

(Excerpt from speech by Adolf Hitler: Strategies for Successful Writing)

Fear seems to be the driving motivator in this election, and regardless of a person’s political inclination, fear and insecurity are the primary impetuses in candidate selection. People supporting Trump are afraid that they are losing their jobs, that they are not being heard and represented, and that the country is heading in a direction that contradicts their beliefs. On the flip side, people supporting Clinton fear increasing racism and intolerance, increased influence of corporate interests, and loss of women’s rights. Add to that the fact that everyone, regardless of political affiliation, is concerned about terrorist threats and political instability in other countries. Put all this together, and you have an election based upon fear, which is stoked by a media that seeks to capitalize on this widespread sentiment.

I am not going to tell you who to vote for, because it is your choice and you have the right to vote your conscience. I would encourage everyone, though, to take a step back, take a deep breath, and try to make a decision that is less fear based. It is tough—trust me, I know—but it is important.

Thanks for stopping by, and keep reading and thinking.


Filed under Non-fiction

9 responses to “Appealing to the Masses

  1. Yes, that quote sounds so familiar. It’s scary. This truly is an election for the history books. I’ll be so glad when it’s over. Except even then I don’t think this fearful and hateful rhetoric will end.

    • Hi Deborah.

      Yeah, if people do ever let go of their fear, it will be a process and will take a while, but it needs to happen if we are to survive and improve.



  2. Good advice, Jeff. I just read an opinion article telling us it’s all going to be okay, no matter who wins. I found that comforting!

    • That’s what I’m telling myself too. Actually, being in NC, I am more concerned about the governor’s race. HB2 has been a nightmare and we need someone to come in and overturn it.

  3. Belief in voting: first tactical error.

    • Maybe. But for sure, if you don’t use it, you will lose it.

      • Bush II, or Clinton II? Voting is an effective scheme that allows American people to give off a little bit of curtained steam lest they revolt en masse against the next king- or queen-to-be in the revolving dinner table of domestic royalty.

  4. i have heard comparisons to hitler but you have provided a quote. thanks very much. chilling 😦

    • Yeah, people love to throw around the Hitler comparison. I think what is most important, though, is recognizing the way Hitler used rhetoric to garner support. A leader does not need to be a Hitler to use the same techniques to sway public opinion.