Political rhetoric embodies Republican platform
Political advertisements, campaign speeches and party conventions are spectacles chock-full of rhetoric.
They act as the fundamental way to appeal to voters. This past week at the Republican National Convention, Republican Presidential and Vice-Presidential Candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan were nominated to run against President Barack Obama. According to the RNC website, this year's convention hosted 2,286 delegates, 2,125 alternative delegates and 15,000 media passes-a press corps second only in size to the London Olympics this year.
Each night of the convention was based around a different slogan including signs, posters, video montages and speeches. Tuesday's slogan was "We built it," Wednesday's "We can change it," and Thursday finished off with "We believe in America."
The slogans for both Wednesday and Thursday are more of your classic campaign rhetoric; bland statements void of an original claim or opinion. They are basic campaign lingo; an integral, yet fluffy, part of any successful platform.
However, Tuesday's slogan seemed to be in direct response to President Obama. Obama said at a campaign rally in Roanoke, VA on July 13, that companies do not become successful simply on hard work and innovative ideas.
He said, "If you are successful, then someone along the line gave you some help." In other words, the government and society have just as much a hand in the success of a company as the owner or founder.
Throughout the evening, various clips were shown at the convention first of President Barack Obama delivering this speech in Virginia followed by various independent business owners responding to the president with some form of "No, Mr. President, I built this." By using the slogan "We built it," the Republican National Convention tried to directly disagree with President Obama.
Using a slogan that will follow you throughout the campaign that is in contrast to your opponent is quite brilliant.
However, the effectiveness of this specific slogan on the surface can be called into question.
The difference of opinion between the Democratic and the Republican camps over this issue is clear.
The Democratic Party maintains that society played a major role in building a company.
Therefore the company should give back to society through higher taxes. Republicans maintain that individual people with innovative ideas and dedication to success built their companies.
The answer is clearly somewhere in the middle.
Obviously, the success of a company is mostly based on the devotion of the owner and his employees.
However, to deny that the government and society have any part in the success of the company would be foolish. Why then is this the issue that the Republicans chose to use to represent themselves? Why not create a slogan of a more concrete issue, like a potentially broken political promise the President has made or a flaw in his economic plan?
Why bring more attention to a mere argument over what percentage the government plays in a successful business? On the surface, it seems rather petty.
That exact pettiness is precisely what makes the slogan so brilliant. This dispute between the two parties represents a fundamental difference in philosophy between Democrats and Republicans.
The Democrats are saying that those who have been blessed with success in their business have the moral duty to pay back the country that has facilitated that success. By using the phrase "We Built This," the Republicans are arguing that the government under President Obama is trying to leech off of the small business owners who have created their businesses through sweat and tears.
Republicans claim it is undemocratic for the government to infringe on the benefits of those sweat and tears. What people choose to do with their hard-earned money is up to them.
This slogan is not meant to draw attention to a petty quarrel over percentages; rather, it portrays the modern-day Republican stance of a laissez-faire government. With these three words of "We Built it,"Republicans convey their entire philosophy that small government facilitates economic growth.
"We built it" also has an enormous externality.
The American public is void of patriotism and self-confidence in their country and in themselves as businessmen and woman. What better way to promote self-confidence than to be constantly wearing your accomplishments on your sleeve and believe in the idea of "We Built This?"
With this slogan, Romney and the Republicans not only portray their entire economic philosophy, but they also invoke a sense of pride within the American people.
You may or may not agree with the Republican campaign platform but their choice of words was nothing short of remarkable.