Current issues

Bernie Sanders is running again to become the Democratic nominee for the presidential elections in 2020. His present candidacy reflects the same opposition to economic inequality as you have seen in the speech. While in 2016 he was not seen as a very likely winner, in the case of the 2020 elections he is seen as a forerunner and has a high chance of winning the Democratic nomination.

Bernie Sanders is also criticised at times, with some calling him a populist because his discourse often opposes the ‘good’ majority to an ‘evil’ minority represented by the corrupt government, corporation and billionaires. In 2016 his ideas about climate and a welfare state like the ones in Scandinavia were considered rather extreme by American standards. Nevertheless, he has since managed to gain more popularity among citizens and to have an impact on the direction of the Democratic Party itself. Surveys show him to be quite popular among young people, probably as a result of his support for free education, but also because a revolutionary tone is more often appealing to the young rather than the old who frequently tend to be more conservative.

Textual perspectives

Consider comparing Barack Obama's second inaugural address from 2013 with Bernie Sanders’ commencement address. Like Sanders, Obama also talks about issues related to inequality in American society. However, while Sanders focuses on inequality in practice, Obama focuses on the principle of equal opportunity. Both argue in favour of unity. The speeches are also similar in terms of the frequent use of allusion and direct reference and in their appeal to ethos. Unlike Sanders’ speech, Obama’s address uses logos only very little.

Barack Obama's Second Inaugural Address 2013

This study guide will help you analyze Barack Obama's second inaugural address. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on summary, topic, speaker, audience, language, modes of persuasion, circumstances, and intention.

You could also compare Bernie Sanders’ commencement address with Donald Trump’s 2016 Republican nomination acceptance speech. Both speakers attack their opponent’s platforms and propose their own policies. While Trump attacks Hillary Clinton, Sanders speaks against Trump and Republicans. Both speeches also explore the issue of economic inequality in the US, but while Sanders blames the very rich for the situation, Trump blames international trade deals. Furthermore, both speakers talk about the corruption of the political class. Unlike Sanders, who mostly talks about poverty, discrimination, education, and taxing the rich, Trump mostly talks about violence in the US, international relations, and reducing taxes to help create jobs.

The article “Our America” by LeAlan Jones from 1996 explores the same themes of poverty and inequality as Bernie Sanders’ commencement address. However, LeAlan Jones is more focuses on the way African Americans struggle with economic inequality and discrimination. By contrast, Sanders does not target a particular minority group, but all of them.

Our America by LeAlan Jones

This study guide will help you analyze the text “Our America” by LeAlan Jones. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on structure, sender, receiver, theme and message, and characteristics of the text.

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