Robert Hughes

Professor Aurora Del Val

WR 121

27 January 2013

Politics and Language: Speech Analysis Essay

“America is NOT broke” a speech given by Michael Moore in Madison, Wisconsin, March 5th, 2011

Beginning of February 2011, as many as 100,000 protesters showed up at Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, to oppose the “Wisconsin Act 10” also called the “Wisconsin budget repair bill” in an effort to make budget cuts, one of which would take away the Collective Bargaining Bill, AKA Union. On March 5th Michael Moore came from Michigan to give a speech to the protesters called “America is NOT broke.” The point of the protest was against the act, but Michael’s speech was more of an attack on the rich, and how they are the root of the economic problems in America/Wisconsin, and how “we have had it!”

Michael’s speech focuses on the fact that there is plenty of money for the many; it just has been diverted to a few. His speech is riddled with what Donna Cross, author of “Propaganda: How Not to Be Bamboozled,” would consider propaganda persuasion techniques like, Name-calling, False-Analogy, Argumentum ad Populum/Hominem and what through numbers show is his favorite, Transfer. Most importantly, while the speech alone might have been good, but in the context of the protest, was out of place.

Name-calling, it is the perfect stage setter. Donna Cross describes this technique in her book on how it “tries to arouse our contempt so we will dismiss the person or idea without examining its merit” (page 150 Language awareness). For instants if you were to hear people saying that a man running for office was a “Child” (abnormally young to be running for office) then you might not even care to hear his speeches (thinking he is too young) never knowing or finding out if his policies are similar to what you believe.

Michael sets the stage by using this technique. “From workers and consumers to the banks and portfolios of the uber-rich”(line 6-8 transcript). This sentence alone makes a clear distinction between us and them, us being the workers and consumers and “them” being the banks and portfolios of the uber-rich, which helps us know who we are against as listeners. Once you know who you’re targeting, it’s time to use what Cross called Argumentum ad Hominem, or making personal attacks to distract from the issue under consideration. An example of this is when

”The executives in the board rooms and hedge funds could not contain their laughter, their glee”… “Marveling at how perfectly they had played a nation full of suckers.”(Lines 64-66) These comments do nothing but paint a picture of the rich for the audience, one of evil and greed.