Speech Strategies And Tactics In The Political Discourse (11/09/2016 Hillary Clinton Speech)
Political discourse defines the necessity to use certain speech strategies and tactics in political speeches, which altogether are aimed at creating an image of a politician and manipulating the consciousness of listeners. Implementation of such strategies and tactics in a proper way can evoke the desired emotional response and have an effect on choices people make. Every politician is unique in using their own strategies and tactics, but, in most cases, such tactics are more or less similar as their target is to create a positive image and make people follow this or that politician. In this paper, we define the key strategies in Hillary Clinton’s speech. Clinton’s strategies are not aimed at making people vote for her, but at persuading them that she is one of them and they need to persevere together to be successful in the future. The speech was given after Hillary lost the 2016 elections, so some strategies are not vivid in her speech, but Hillary underlines that she is the one that supports all groups of the society whereas Donald Trump does not do so.
Keywords: Political discoursespeech strategiesspeech tacticsvaluesrecipient
The research is devoted to studying the strategies and tactics in the modern political discourse. It appears important to define how certain strategies and tactics are realized in a particular speech of a politician. In our paper, we take into account not only the speech of a politician but also circumstances that underpin the situation in which the speech was given.
The material we base our research on is Hillary Clinton’s speech that she gave on 9 November in 2016 after she had lost the US Presidential elections. It is necessary to pay attention to the strategies that she uses in her speech and to define how they correlate with the actual situation in which this speech was given.
The instrumental function of the language is extensively used in the political discourse and is realized through using speech strategies (Mironova, 2015).
Political discourse is such a sphere of contemporary linguistics that seems interesting to many researchers because political speeches can be approached from different angles and examined by various methods (Fetzer, 2013). V. Demyankov defines political discourse as something that is easy to ‘digest’ and can have an immediate manipulative effect on the minds of the public (Demyankov, 2002).
Before we start our linguistic analysis, it is necessary to define the term ‘speech strategy’. According to O. Issers, a speech strategy is a combination of speech actions aimed at achieving certain communication goals; the whole process involves certain speech production planning and depends on communication circumstances, personal features of the involved participants and the way the plan is realized (Issers, 2016).
In our research, we need to pay attention to one of the existing classifications of political strategies and tactics. We believe that the classification of O. N. Parshina is the most complete and applicable to our analysis. The first strategy that O. N. Parshina underlines is the self-presentation strategy (creating the image of a politician). This strategy includes the tactics of making oneself equal to others (showing that one belongs to this or that social or political group); and the tactics of opposition (dividing the society into ‘friends’ and ‘foes’).
There are two strategies of persuasion.
Argumentative strategy (persuading a recipient with the help of arguments). This sub strategy is comprised of several tactics which are as follows:
tactics of proven assessment (when a speaker tries to assess something and prove their point);
tactics of contrast analysis (comparing and contrasting facts, events, results);
tactics of showing a perspective (forecasting development of events, commenting on future goals);
illustration tactics (giving examples, facts).
Propagation strategy (the strategy of influencing people’s behavior by making them do something, make a choice), which includes the tactics of promise and the tactics of appeal.
The next strategy is fighting for power and it includes the following sub strategies:
Strategy of discrediting and attack (undermining your opponent’s authority, humiliation, spoiling the reputation, etc.);
Manipulative strategy (different dishonest tricks that make the recipient believe the speaker). Here such techniques as giving unfeasible promises, unproven facts, and overstatements are used as well as manipulative tactics among which there is politeness tactics, the tactics of distracting the recipient’s attention from the actual problem and overestimation tactics.
One more strategy is the strategy of self-defense (persuading that different accusations do not hold true). Here we can identify such tactics as the tactics of explanation, tactics of disagreement and tactics of criticism.
Apart from all the strategies mentioned above, we can also outline the strategies of keeping the power, as well as information-interpretation strategy (informing citizens about the most important events of social, economic and political life). In this case, O. N. Parshina speaks about such tactics as acceptance of a problem; emphasizing the positive aspect of things; tactics of clarifying information; tactics of giving comments; tactics of looking at a problem from a different angle and tactics of defining a solution to the problem. It is also important to mention such a strategy as shaping the emotional state of the audience. The functional tactics here are the unification tactics (uniting all people as representatives of one nation), addressing the recipients’ emotions, tactics of considering the audience’s values (system of values).
Among this range of tactics, there are those that refer to many strategies, such tactics are highlighting (emphasizing some particular moment in a speaker’s speech) and the tactics of distancing ‘friends’ – our people – from ‘foes’ – all the other people (Parshina, 2012).
The material for our research is Hillary Clinton’s speech, which we are going to study in terms of the above-mentioned strategies and tactics.
Hillary Rodham Clinton – is one of the most influential woman politicians in the world. She has been a member of the Democratic party of the USA since 1968. In the period of 1993-2001 Hillary was the first lady of the USA; Bill Clinton – her husband- was the 42nd US President then. In the period of 2009-2013 Hillary was a State Secretary in the White House. She was the main opponent of Donald Trump in the Presidential Elections of 2016.
The main questions of the present paper are as follows:
Identifying the strategies and tactics that Hillary Clinton uses in her speech which was given 9 November 2016;
Analysing the language means that help the speaker realize strategies and tactics;
Predicting the effect that the actual strategies and tactics might have on the audience.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the research is to analyse the speech of an American politician Hillary Clinton from the point of view of speech strategies and tactics. The research is important because it is necessary to study the strategies and tactics of political discourse taking into account the background, circumstances and features of this very particular speaker.
In our research, we use the main aspects of linguistic analysis: choosing the language material for analysis, comparing, defining and describing the data present. At the same time, we examine the text taking into account lexical units, contextual meaning and syntactical organisations.
After Hillary Clinton lost the elections in November 2016, she pronounced a speech in which she thanked all her supporters and followers and encouraged them to believe in future victories and ‘not to lose heart’.
Throughout the whole speech, we can underline the use of the strategy ‘shaping the recipients’ emotional state’ which involves the tactics of unification: ..
In the speech in question, the strategy of considering the audience’s system of values is widely used: Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power, and we don't just respect that, we cherish it. It also enshrines other things — the rule of law, the principle that we are all equal in rights and dignity, freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values, too, and we must defend them. Clinton speaks about such traditional American values as democracy, law, equality, freedom of self-expression and religion. Here we can notice the discrediting strategy as Donald Trump expressed negative attitude towards Muslims and immigrants. So, by using such phrases as …the rule of law, the principle that we are all equal in rights and dignity, freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values, too, and we must defend them… Hillary Clinton emphasises the fact that she shares the main values of the Americans and cherishes them, whereas her opponent does not do so, which discredits him and makes him a ‘foe’ (strategy of dividing the society into ‘friends’ and ‘foes’ and opposing them at the same time.
The strategy of self-presentation is also viewed through the tactics of opposing ‘friends’-‘foes’. In her speech Hillary Clinton underlines the boundary between ‘our people’ and ‘those people’:
It is worth noting that Hillary does not vividly use the propagation strategy in her speech as she lost the elections, but some elements of such a strategy are still present in her speech: …
Apart from this appeal to secretly fight ‘foes’, Hillary Clinton uses the discrediting strategy. She does this subtly, as fight for power is not actual at the moment, but the phrases:
Overstatement tactics:…We've spent a year and a half bringing together millions of people from every corner of our country to say with one voice that we believe that the American dream is big enough for everyone, for people of all races and religions, for men and women, for immigrants, for LGBT people and people with disabilities, for everyone... again underlines the wrong policy that Donald Trump has and the fact that he belongs to the wrong team, opposing all true Americans. In his election campaign, Trump claimed that he would deport all Muslim immigrants, which, in Hillary’s view, does not coincide with the values shared by true Democratic Americans. The repetition of such words as every, everyone, all underlines that Clinton speaks about the whole country, all the people in the USA, whereas Donald Trump does not care about all people in the USA, just some groups.
While analyzing this very speech of Hillary Clinton, we cannot help noticing how she reflects all those values she mentions and that all American people share in her personal life. She thanks all her supporters, but special thanks go to her family:…
The strategies of shaping the emotional state of the audience and making herself equal to all the people in the country are also reflected in the following part of Hillary’s speech:…
At the end of her speech, Hillary cites the Bible:
Throughout the whole speech we notice the strategies of unification, opposition ‘friends’-‘foes’, some points of discreditation techniques and self-presentation as a woman, loving her family and all the people in her country.
Making a conclusion, it can be stated that the key strategies in the speech of Hillary Clinton that she gave 9 November 2016 are self-presentation, unification, opposition, emotional addresses, considering the system of values of the nation and encouraging to work for the future. Political discourse is aimed at creating positive images and making the audience believe the speaker. When analyzing certain speeches, the actual circumstances in which the speech is given should be taken into account, as such circumstances may define the strategies and tactics that a speaker implements.
- Demyankov V.Z. (2002). Politicheskiy diskurs kak predmet politicheskoy philologii. Retrieved from: URL: http://www.infolex.ru/PolDis.html (19.03.2018)
- Fetzer Anita (2013). The Pragmatics of Political Discourse. Exploration across Cultures. University of Augsburg.
- Issers O. S. (2016). Rechevoye vozdeystviye. Uchebnoe Posobiye. Flinta
- Mironova Dagmar (2015). Politicheskiy diskurs. Uchebnoye posobiye. Moskovskiy gosudarstvenniy universitet.
- Parshina O.N. (2012). Rossiyskaya politicheskaya rech. Teoriya I praktika. URSS
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VolumeEpSBS / Volume 39 - WUT 2018