Bernie Sanders' Commencement Speech


In this study guide, you can get help analyzing Bernie Sanders' speech to the graduates of Brooklyn College entitled “Bernie Sanders to Brooklyn College Graduates: Don’t ‘Allow Demagogues to Divide Us’ ”. In addition to help with your analysis, you can find a summary of the speech and ideas for discussion and perspective.

Presentation of the text

Title: “Bernie Sanders to Brooklyn College Graduates: Don’t‘ Allow Demagogues to Divide Us’ ” (2017)
Speaker: Bernie Sanders
Genre: Speech

Bernie Sanders (b. 1941) is an American politician from the Democratic Party. Sander has been a senator in the state of Vermont since 2007. He ran in the 2016 U.S. primary in hopes of winning the Democrats' nomination for presidential candidate, but he lost to Hillary Clinton. Sanders ran again with a view to the US presidential election in 2020, but lost to Joe Biden. He is known for his - by American standards - very progressive views in the social and climate field and has previously argued that the US should adopt the Scandinavian welfare model. He is a strong opponent of economic inequality.


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Direct address

As the speech is delivered in front of a live audience, there are several instances in which Sanders addresses them directly. One example is in the beginning of the speech: “…I want to wish all of you the very best of luck in your future endeavors. May you all live healthy and happy lives…” (ll. 2-3). Starting by focusing on the audience helps the speaker get their attention so that they further engage with the rest of his speech.

At the end of the speech, Sanders returns to the audience: “So today as you graduate Brooklyn College, my message to you is very simple” (l. 99)...

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Bernie Sanders' Commencement Speech

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