RhetoricalStrategies of Bernie Sanders
TexasA&M University – Corpus Christi
BernieSanders has been a member of the Senate from Vermont since 2007. Whenthe presidential campaign began, Sanders announced on the 30th ofApril that he would be running as a Democrat for the Party’s 2016presidential nomination. However, he said he would attend in thepresidential election as an independent. During the same time,2016-2017 universities’ fees were published. The colleges` costincreased in America, and because of that, students were worriedabout the college fee. Then, October 22, 2016, Sanders gave theinterview to "Washington Post" about the status ofuniversities tuition. He suggested that college tuition fee should befree for all. Sanders wants to persuade his audience that a freecollege education degree is possible. Sanders uses the rhetoricalappeals of logos and ethos effectively to persuade his audience byemphasizing important issues about high tuition rates which arerelevant to students.
Accordingto Mead, (2016) Bernie Sanders was born on 8 September 1941 inBrooklyn NY. He grew up in Brooklyn. In 1964 he graduated from theUniversity of Chicago. He moved to Vermont in 1968. Then in 1981 hewas elected the Mayor of Burlington: that was the first significantstep in his political career. In 1991 he was elected congressman inVermont. In 2007, after 16 years of serving as Mayor, he was selectedto be the Senate of Vermont. He was re-elected to a Senate fromVermont in 2012. His presidential campaign was started on May 26,2015, in Burlington
Sandersused logos by historical information show that Sanders has knowledgeabout history. One way he succeeded in grabbing his audience’sattention is the use of the real facts. For example, beginning withhis conversation, Sanders gave the quotation from former President ofthe United States of America, Rutherford B. Hayes, for addinghistorical appeal to his speech. He says, “Education was the basisfor full economic and political participation, and full participationwas the foundation for all prosperity. An education should beavailable to all regardless of anyone’s station". Sandersknows that last year students took student loan totally $1.3 trillionin America. That is a huge number, and that means millions ofstudents took student loans. That is why he used that fact forpersuading students who are in debt. Moreover, he said, “Animportant pathway to the middle class now runs through highereducation, but rising costs are making it harder and harder forordinary Americans to get the education they want and need. In 1978,it was possible to earn enough money to pay for a year of collegetuition just by working a summer job that paid minimum wage. Today,it would take a minimum wage worker an entire year to earn enough tocover the annual in-state tuition at a public university.” He usedreal facts from history for persuading his audience with thepossibility of his ideas. Senator Sanders’s speech consisted ofwords that were chosen carefully to best suit the context astatement gives the motivation to describe college or universitieswithout tuition fees.
Sanderseffectively uses logos to persuade his audience when he statesexamples of countries that have succeeded in making collegecost-free. He mentions countries such as Iceland, Sweden, Denmark,and Germany. In fact, to further engage the audience, he states thatGermans have even extended this offer to international students. Theresult of which many Americans have traveled to some of the Europeancountries to advance their education. Sanders includes all thisinformation to prove to those against the idea that indeed a freeuniversal education system for colleges and universities is possiblein the United States. The significant difference between thesecountries and the United States is that their governments haverealized that the future of their country relies on the availabilityof an adequate human resource. This comparison aim to persuade theaudience to believe that proper education for the younger generationis the key to future prosperity. As a result, since everyone alwayswant the best for their country, they will demand that the governmentchange its policies on education. In the article, Sanders includesstatistics to persuade his audience about the existing socialproblem. According to him, an American would only need about $200 peryear for him or her to earn a degree in either engineering or math inEurope. Lastly, still, on logos, Sanders revisits the story of howeducating veterans helped the country to develop during the post-warera. It is historically correct that the GI Bill allowed more than 2million veterans access to a free college education and the resultwas economic development and high productivity. This statement ispersuasive because if the government was able to accommodate such anumber, it is evident that there is something it can do to helpstudents coming from low income families.
Anotherrhetorical technique that Senator Sanders has used to persuade hisaudience is ethos. He effectively uses ethical appeal when he statesthat countries that have adopted this policy have always benefited.The fact that many Americans now prefer studying in Europeanuniversities is proof. It is true that the American education systemexposes a lot of people to heavy credits. He states that Americansare currently carrying more student debt cards than credit. Accordingto Sanders, the debt crisis in the United States is very worrying,and one way through which it can be controlled is by ensuring thatbright students get the best education without worrying about thebills. Additionally, Sanders intends to connect with his audienceethically by stating that universal access to a free collegeeducation will help in ensuring equality for those coming fromlow-income families. As it is now, high tuition fees make itimpossible for bright needy students to continue their education. Ifthe policy is adopted, it is evident that the country will witness asignificant growth in university enrollments, and this can lead toeconomic development and improvement in the standards of living.
SenatorSanders also uses ethical appeal (ethos) when he contrast pastgovernment with the present. For example, at the beginning of theinterview, Sanders begins by comparing the past to the present. Hestates that former President of the United States of America,Rutherford Hayes did not worry that children from low-income familiesmight benefit from universally available public education. Neitherdid he believe that those who came from wealthy families would beleft out. That was because education was the basis for full politicaland economic participation. It is evident that by including thiscase, he seeks to question the ethical integrity of the audience. Forinstance, why should college be just for the privileged few? In anysociety, personal virtue always demands that it is immoral to deny anindividual access to affordable and quality education based on theireconomic background. The audience or reader of the interview willthus be compelled to agree that access to college education isnecessary for economic development in the country.
Inconclusion, it is, therefore, evident that Sanders has effectivelyused rhetorical devices such as ethos and logos to persuade hisaudience. He included factual information such as debt status in thecountry, history of veterans, and past regimes. It is evident fromthe interview that access to the free college education will havemore benefits because it will ensure that there is an adequate humanresource to drive the economy forward. Consequently, the author haspersuaded his audience by questioning the integrity of the currentsystem. It is evident that the use of rhetorical techniques such asethos and logos was effective in capturing audience attention.
Mead,W. (2016, September 12) Bernie Sanders’s Biography. Bio.Retrievedfrom http://www.biography.com/people/bernie-sanders-02032016
Sanders,B. (2015, October 22). Make college for free all. TheWashington Post.Retrieved from www.washingtonpost.com