Obama Vs Guardian – Sample Year 12 Question
SECTION A – Language and Mode
Text A is an extract taken from Barack Obama’s New Hampshire speech in January 2008 – the beginning of his campaign to stand for president of the United States. (cf. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fe751kMBwms)
Text B is the opening of an article from the Guardian by Jonathan Freedland written one year later on President Obama’s Inauguration.
Identify and describe the main mode characteristics of the texts.
Examine how the speakers in Text A and the writer of Text B use language to achieve their purposes and create meanings.
In your answer you should consider:
- vocabulary and meanings
- grammatical features and their effects
- topics and how they are structured
- interactive features of language in Text A
- how the language of Text B addresses the reader and shapes their response.
And when I am President, we will end this war in Iraq and bring our
troops home; we will finish the job against al Qaeda in Afghanistan;
we will care for our veterans; we will restore our moral standing in
the world; and we will never use 9/11 as a way to scare up votes,
because it is not a tactic to win an election, it is a challenge that
should unite America and the world against the common threats of the
twenty-first century: terrorism and nuclear weapons; climate change
and poverty; genocide and disease.
All of the candidates in this race share these goals. All have good
ideas. And all are patriots who serve this country honorably.
But the reason our campaign has always been different is because it’s
not just about what I will do as President, it’s also about what you,
the people who love this country, can do to change it.
That’s why tonight belongs to you. It belongs to the organizers and
the volunteers and the staff who believed in our improbable journey
and rallied so many others to join.
We know the battle ahead will be long, but always remember that no
matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can withstand the
power of millions of voices calling for change.
We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics who will
only grow louder and more dissonant in the weeks to come. We’ve been
asked to pause for a reality check. We’ve been warned against
offering the people of this nation false hope.
But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been
anything false about hope. For when we have faced down impossible
odds; when we’ve been told that we’re not ready, or that we shouldn’t
try, or that we can’t, generations of Americans have responded with a
simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people.
Yes we can.
It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the
destiny of a nation.
Yes we can.
It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail
toward freedom through the darkest of nights.
Yes we can.
It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and
pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness.
Yes we can.
It was the call of workers who organized; women who reached for the
ballot; a President who chose the moon as our new frontier; and a King who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the Promised Land.
Yes we can to justice and equality. Yes we can to opportunity and
prosperity. Yes we can heal this nation. Yes we can repair this
world. Yes we can.
And so tomorrow, as we take this campaign South and West; as we learn
that the struggles of the textile worker in Spartanburg are not so
different than the plight of the dishwasher in Las Vegas; that the
hopes of the little girl who goes to a crumbling school in Dillon are
the same as the dreams of the boy who learns on the streets of LA; we
will remember that there is something happening in America; that we
are not as divided as our politics suggests; that we are one people;
we are one nation; and together, we will begin the next great chapter
in America’s story with three words that will ring from coast to
coast; from sea to shining sea – Yes. We. Can.
Barack Obama, A Voice From Within
The first time I saw Barack Obama in the flesh was at Kingstree High School in South Carolina. It was January 2008, early in the presidential campaign, when people were still not quite sure what to make of the “skinny guy with the funny name,” as he called himself.
The crowd there were mainly African-American, which marked a change after the almost all-white audiences of Iowa and New Hampshire. It also represented Obama’s first chance to reassure hitherto-sceptical black Americans that he was, indeed, one of their own.
In his manner, in his speaking style, he demonstrated just that – and swiftly. “I need you not only to vote, but I need you to get cousin Pookie to vote,” he said, with a smile. “I need Ray-Ray to vote.” Anyone who ever doubted whether Obama was “black enough” left Kingstree that morning with no such doubts.
But the candidate did not just tickle his audience’s tummy. He told them some uncomfortable truths too. He told black fathers they needed to stay with their children, that parents needed to help their kids with their schoolwork, that black America needed to offer role models besides rappers and athletes.
I’ve been thinking of that morning in Kingstree after reading the speech Obama gave last night to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, America’s premier civil rights organisation. It was yet another stirring address – though we’re getting used to those. But it also adopted the shape that now seems to characterise some of Obama’s most effective speeches and which was on display, if only in outline, all those months ago in South Carolina.
First, the president stresses his solidarity with and affinity for his audience. To the NAACP, that came through a powerful attack on America’s long history of racism and his admission that that is far from being in the past: “the pain of discrimination is still felt in America,” he said. That empathy came with a lot of practical talk on remedies, in employment, education and healthcare.