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The Power of Language in Politics

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Language is an inevitable, powerful tool for efficient communication of thoughts and ideas, building friendships, economic ties and ethnic relationships. However, how language is used varies from person to person: some view it only as a means of expression while others state that this ability, to clearly portray a certain message, equates to acquisition of power that can be used as an instrument in persuasive political tactics, consumerism, cultural promotions. The power of language is so immense it allows certain individuals to motivate and therefore control thousands, even millions of people.

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In political campaigns the use of language is usually persuasive as it is incorporating rhetoric and propaganda. Usually propaganda uses the language in a deceitful way to subconsciously create opinions and ideas so that people would act in a certain political favor. Politicians embrace these linguistic techniques like appealing to fear, prejudice, euphemism, name-calling in order to motivate people to vote for them and their parties by presenting themselves as the only capable persons for the job. Another attribute of language of politics and election campaigns is rhetoric such as promises, exaggeration, insulting the haters in a subtle manner, figurative expressions, etc. For example, the president of the United States of America Donald Trump used many of these rhetorical devices on March 4, 2016 in a political campaign as he said the words “Get’em out of here. Try not to hurt him” in order to cover his words, twist meaning and to obscure what is actually being said. This strongly influences the amount of votes a politician gets.

The language of political campaigns also often uses and exploits vague expressions, aimed for the promotion of the candidate’s personal qualities and the capability of the leadership rather than talking about boring, complicated details on policies and laws. For instance, The former president of the United States of America, Barack Obama became a candidate with the theme of ‘change’ in 2008 followed by a quote that is short, simple and sophisticated, however not precise: “Yes we can” which is inspirational, empowering and could be applied in many, not specific ways. For another example let’s take the present president of USA, Donald Trump with a slogan “Make America Great Again” (2014) which is motivational, simple just like Obama’s slogan. Also the popularity behind it lies in the way it was advertised and promoted as it lets and invites citizens of the USA to be a part of creating a better, brighter future as ideas of poverty would unlikely attract such a strong support. This is where the use of negative and positive language used in political communication show its importance. In general, people tend to follow the leaders who offer hope and a likelihood of a better future rather than a future of nothing which is not appealing to a lot of people as traditional media news outlets already tend to stream too much of threating, terrorism focused information etc. 

Using the simplicity of language in political elections and speeches can also benefit the communication between diverse cultural and racial audience. An official press statement is not an opportunity to demonstrate one’s rhetorical abilities but it’s the opposite of it: the message that politicians sent out has to be clear, easily understandable and not confusing in any case as not every citizen has a profound knowledge of language. This fits in the realm of the Social media or so to say tweets done by politicians. A classic example would be the president’s of the United States of America, Donald Trump’s tweets which is suited for the direct and personal communication which also gives a side of his spontaneity and personality which is not finely tuned. His tweets are mostly self-centered, and he has a say about everything which presents his opinion without any restriction or protocols that has to be followed in the traditional form of communication which gives him a platform to express himself. 

One of Orwell’s theories was that the great enemy of a language is insincerity which is filling the speeches with long words and exhausted idioms. To prove this theory, we could use the Donald Trump’s goals that he will build a great wall on the southern border and make Mexico pay. In this sentence we can see that he used the phrase “great wall” instead of choosing specific and clear expression such as “wall”, “Immgiration border line” etc. which shows that he prefers to use idioms which are very vague and abstract in many ways. We can see that Trump’s statements are made just for the voters who thought that his political promises would be fulfilled however we can see by the use of Trump’s language that he is not clear with his goals. We could say that this is to provoke people’s perception or impress his audience, but his bold speeches can be very vague and an example of political rhetoric.

As language is a vital, inseparable part of our daily life, it wields a vast, unbreakable power. A conscious, proficient use of language lets us not only to express ourselves, but gives the ability to persuade others to one’s point of view or beliefs. Every single word that is being used by the politicians expresses some political viewpoint. This can be as subtle as a rhetoric reference, euphemism, idioms or how people use exaggerations and figurative expressions as the objective of trying to be different and noticeable usually requires tremendous push of the language to its limits. If we want to create political atmosphere of comprise and fair thoughts we need to move away from language that benefits in winning elections and move towards language that works for actually governing. 

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