Benjamin Franklin and Barack Obama Presidential Traits, Essay Example

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Essay

Thesis: The rhetoric and leadership style of both Barack Obama and Benjamin Franklin are similar in a way that they are targeting the everyday people, try to make the message as simple as possible to make the political ideas more understandable for their listeners.

The below analysis is looking into the communication and presidential traits of the two US presidents. Although their historical background and era is different, there are many similarities to be revealed in their communication and ideology.

Personality and presidential traits

In the aspect of background, both Barack Obama and Benjamin Franklin are considered a “new man” in politics. They did not have any previous established support base, and they skillfully established their credibility throughout their campaign. It is interesting that Obama’s “hero” is Cicero, while it is well known that Benjamin Franklin also studied Ancient Greek and Roman authors, and developed his personal improvement program, consisting of 13 main virtues of a good statesman.  In 2011, Obama also called for the virtue in people, and stated: “expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together.” (Obama, Tuscon Memorial Speech, 2011)

Similarly, both presidents were both businessmen and supported communities. Obama worked as a community organizer for low income residents in the 1980-s, while Benjamin Franklin put his life on “working for the common good”, as well as helping the English colonists in America.

The rhetorical style and ideology

Although there are almost 300 years between the political impacts of the two presidents, it is visible that the influence of the Cicero’s books is present in their rhetoric work and ideology. Barack Obama is considered to be a pragmatist, focusing on the policies and common good. Similarly, this type of approach is present in Franklin’s speeches and books. Still, both politicians have a strong ideological background that lies in ethical considerations and therefore, it can be concluded that the rhetoric style and political approach of both presidents is idealistic pragmatism. Obama worked at a law firm and gained a diploma at Harvard Law School.  The pragmatism of his politics is based on the new approaches of legal system, the increased involvement of people in the decisions and the common good.

It is also important to note that both presidents are among the best speakers of the American history, and both have published best-selling articles, books and memoirs. The way the two people are able to speak to others and anticipate their questions, worries and frustrations make them successful in politics. By acting as a real statesman, like Cicero describes the ideal politician, they both were able to raise hope and gain the trust of millions of people. The methods they used were able to connect to masses, answer their questions and the challenges of the era. In his first State of the Union speech, Obama said: “We don’t quit. I don’t quit.  Let’s seize this moment to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and strengthen our union once more.” (Obama, State of the Union speech, 2010) This quote harmonizes with the famous quote of Benjamin Franklin: “All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move.” (Franklin, Autobiography)

Conclusion

From the above overview, it is evident that the background, ideology and rhetorical style of the two presidents is similar, as well as the situation of America at the time of their presidency. Both of them started with great reforms and the reestablishment of the legal system, and they were determined to support the good of the people living in the country.

References

Franklin, B. Autobiography of. Online. http://www.earlyamerica.com/lives/franklin/

Obama, B. Tuscon Memorial Speech, 2011 Online. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztbJmXQDIGA

Obama, B, State of the Union speech, 2010 online. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1PWQtCDaYY

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