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Rhetoric Is More Important Than Facts in a Campaign

By: Sophia ’13

We live in a time when any statement can be fact-checked at the touch of a button. Everyone with Wi-Fi has access to facts, and so the value of a politician’s ability to recite and regurgitate information has been greatly diminished. Of course the truth is important, but I think a politician’s inspirational speaking abilities carry much more weight than factual accuracy.

If a politician has truly great rhetoric and speaking skills, the public is going to respond well. First Lady Michelle Obama gave a moving speech at the Democratic National Convention more focused on her passion for her country and husband than on any specific policy ideas. She spoke of her husband having made the American dream his reality. Her speech was powerful and encouraging, and no facts or statistics could have improved it.

Similarly, when President Obama himself spoke, I felt a connection. Through the TV screen, across the country, I felt as though he were speaking directly to me. I was not only inspired by his words but ready to put my well-being in his hands. I felt a sensation of trust, and when it comes to picking a leader, isn’t trust a key value? Both Barack and Michelle Obama are clearly educated and insightful individuals, but their ability to inspire is of even greater value than their intellect. Mitt Romney, however, lacks this power of connection. After watching his speech at the Republican National Convention, I felt no kinship or excitement, no desire to get off my feet and support his cause.

Plus, opinions on policy can change. Mitt Romney once publicly stated that he was pro-choice but more recently declared that he supports the reversal of Roe v. Wade. After nearly a full term in office, President Obama proclaimed his support for gay marriage. There is no way to be sure that a politician’s policies and goals will remain entirely the same once he is elected or that she won’t bend facts to suit new platforms.

Even if a president sticks to his guns all the way through, there is no telling whether or not the predictions politicians make will come true. It’s nearly impossible to know exactly what the economy will look like in five or ten years. Therefore, choosing a President isn’t about choosing a roster of facts: it’s about choosing a person. We, the people, put our trust in the hands of one individual and allow that individual to guide the nation according to his or her vision. Most individuals don’t have time to acquaint themselves with every nitty-gritty, minute detail of politics; that’s why we elect government officials. Being an informed citizen is important, but when we as a nation elect a president, we are handing them the task of dealing with all those facts so that we don’t have to. When I am old enough to vote, I will vote for a candidate who inspires me and who gives me hope for the future of our country.