By: Elena Grace Flores
Republican Rick Wilson saw their party’s missing elements from Michelle Obama’s speech. He was reminded by the first lady that a passionate speech with heart, poetry and grace remains a howitzer in the digital-age political arsenal. When it may be true that Donald Trump excited some voters with his way of brutal talking but deep within, can’t help realization to surface – that it’s not how Americans are or how they would like to be perceived.
This is not different in the Philippines when only those who are avid fans of President Rodrigo Duterte who are fond of his threatening words to those who would disobey his policies will take time in watching his SONA speech on You-tube just to have a laugh over his usually funny ad-lib. Humorous but not necessarily significant. In fact, it pissed off the Communist Party of the Philippines’ leader despite his lobbying them – when he declared a ceasefire and announced it as part of the State of the Nation Address. It went ahead and created terror in Basilan that killed a military man. President Duterte then gave them an ultimatum to explain or else he would cancel the ceasefire which they deliberately ignored to show Duterte that he cannot hold their neck. He might be passionate in his speech but he was no way graceful. His boastfulness is just irritating triggering further conflicts. On the other hand in America…
USA Today reported: As a Republican who pays attention to how the other side wins, I’ve spent a lot of time fighting to drag my party out of the stone-knives and bear-skins era of politics. America is screen-agnostic, and the accelerating future isn’t about destination television with Mom, Dad and 2.25 adorable scamps watching Family Guy in the blue glow of the widescreen. But even now, the power of a great speech can have real political impact.
In the age of Donald Trump and his shoot-from-the-lip, we-don’t-need-no-stinking-consultants campaign, his supporters are embracing what Tom Nichols calls The Death of Expertise. Field operations? Nah. Television and digital ads? Those are for RINOs. Data and voter targeting? They’ve got Trump’s Twitter account for that. Fed on a steady diet of revenge fantasies against the “elites” who won almost 1,000 elected offices for Republicans in the era of Obama, Trump Republicans are proud to be rid of the tools and techniques that won the White House.
As important, the post-Republican Trump party has left the ancient power of rhetoric and speech-writing behind. There was no cohesion or strategic underpinning to the speeches in Cleveland, and with a few exceptions, the Republican convention speakers were a hot rhetorical mess. Closing with a nearly incoherent Castroesque 76-minute shoutfest, delivered with the volume and hate turned up to 11, told viewers that the art of Republican speech-writing is in mortal danger. This was no shining city on a hill but a dumpster fire on a burning tire pile.
Monday night, the first lady reminded this Republican that a passionate speech with heart, poetry and grace is still one of the most powerful and effective tools in the political toolbox. It was the instrument of the speech itself that impressed me, not its politics. Even if you’re not a Michelle Obama fan, it was authentically her voice, beautifully crafted and strategically on point.