Hillary Clinton 2016 Concession Speech: An Analysis | Teen Ink

Hillary Clinton 2016 Concession Speech: An Analysis

January 23, 2020
By rosemarymelon SILVER, Garfield, New Jersey
rosemarymelon SILVER, Garfield, New Jersey
5 articles 2 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
Wouldn't the world be better off if we took nonsense more seriously? (Marvin Yagoda)

In her speech following the 2016 presidential campaign, Clinton evokes hope and cheer in the face of failure. An unbounded nation, she claims, a world where everyone can follow their dreams is still very much achievable. Throughout, she acts as a kind of sycophant--to an almost incessant end, thanking and flattering the crowd. To motivate the audience and undermine their dismay, the author takes advantage of automatic ethos, saturating her words with positivity and gratitude.

Clinton offers several "Thank you['s]"--eleven, in fact--within the first few lines of the given. A pattern throughout, such repetition establishes her gratefulness towards the viewer, emphasizing Clinton's dependence on them. They, the audience, are the "millions of volunteers, community leaders, activists...", and donators (Clinton 3), who, through one way or another, fought for the common good. See how she takes great care in identifying each role; everyone, she assures, played a significant part. Her efforts, however, she does not acknowledge in the slightest; she was the voice, not the driving force. As stated by the former Secretary of State, "[their] campaign was never about one person..." (1) Instead, it is through determination, continued participation in "our constitutional democracy, " Clinton encourages (2), that the viewers should ease a "hopeful, inclusive, and big-hearted" America (1). By necessity, to truly represent the positive qualities Hillary describes them as having, the audience is motivated to continue fighting for their beliefs. And they are more inclined to follow suit, too, given Hillary's automatic ethos.

Coming back to the beginning of the text, immense praise the author receives with little words. Clinton needed not to establish herself as a credible individual; she already epitomized the audience's goals and beliefs. They ("we") built their campaign together with the values they ("we," used again by Hillary) "respect and cherish" (1). The author and her audience have already familiarized themselves with each other. Her supporters, therefore, praise all of which Hillary proposes: that they must have an open mind, and continue to defend their cause. The former is related to the feelings of divisiveness over the election results; Hillary acknowledges that her loss was "not the outcome we [the audience and herself] wanted," in a kind of concession, "I know," she states, "how disappointed you [the viewer] feel[s]." (1) Directly afterward she employs expressions of appreciation--"I feel pride and gratitude for this wonderful campaign...you represent the best of America..." and platitudes "But I still believe in America and I always will...", successfully undermining those negative emotions, resulting in applause.

The author's comments:

Originally for my AP Lang class. I found the prompt very compelling; analyzing the way an important leader, a modern one at that, uses language to sway their audience. I hope to improve how explicit and comprehensive I am with my explanations.

You can find the transcript of Hillary's speech, the source I used to write this essay, here: cnn.com/2016/11/09/politics/hillary-clinton-concession-speech/index.html

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