Lyndon B. Johnson addresses a congressional session to tackle pertinent issues affecting the nation. In his speech, Johnson goes to great lengths to be direct. He alternatives out his audience and is careful to tackle their roles in solving the problems at hand. He indicates great temperament in his use of language and uses emotive speech to create putting imagery, capture and motivate his audience. His goal listeners are both the congress sitting in front of him and American human beings watching at home. Johnson, is spectacular in his desire of words as he interchanges between the rational and emotional an appeal to each pathos and logos. The rational elements of his speech are instructions to the individuals of congress and the emotive aspects for his audience at home. To this impact he continually uses emotive language directed at congress and the American people, urging the latter to keep the former accountable. “if we fail…then history will rightfully judge us harshly, but if we succeed…then we can take the full satisfaction in the state of the Union,” (Johnson 1).
He addresses the bureaucracy of politics and uses the previous congressional session to challenge the sitting congress (Johnson 1). This imagery of competition is important to qualify, because these politicians have run for election so in his reference to competition, he appeals to instinct. When listening to a recording of the speech, this moment is followed by rapturous applause and it is the moment where he begins to capture the minds and hearts of his listeners, (Johnson, State of the Union 1964). This ability to motivate speaks to his executive leadership as it creates buy in from both parties.
Additionally, when he speaks about rectifying civil rights issues, economic growth to alleviate poverty, education, health and social welfare issues, he uses persuasive language that carries both fact and emotion. An example of this can be found when he firstly describes his role and response to the problem using emotive language, then addresses a solution to the problem using fact and reverts back to emotive language to close the train of thought: “For my part, I pledge a progressive administration which is efficient, and honest and frugal. The budget to be submitted to the Congress shortly is in full accord with this pledge. It will cut our deficit in half—from $10 billion to $4,900 million. It will be, in proportion to our national output, the smallest budget since 1951…for America cannot afford to stand still. Our population is growing. Our economy is more complex. Our people’s needs are expanding,” (Johnson 2). This is an example of his simultaneous use of logos and pathos that allows him to speak to congress and the American public.
His use of emotive language and continuous use of pathos is best espoused in the continual imagery of war and military efforts. This is repeated throughout the speech and in his use of military style language, the roles are clearly defined. His charge to Congress is to “avoid senseless quarrels and to demonstrate effective leadership by discharging the public with clarity and dispatch,” (Johnson 1). He makes this call as commander and chief and throughout the speech continues to evoke and stir his audience using military style language. Therefore, during the speech you have an image of a commander discharging the full force of the American Congress both democrat and republican with a mandate to safe guard the America people’s interests. Similarly, another example of this is made about the” unconditional war on poverty in America,” and in another instance, “Our chief weapons in a more pinpointed attack will be better schools, and better health, and better homes, and better training, and better job opportunities to help more Americans, especially young Americans, escape from squalor and misery and unemployment rolls where other citizens help to carry them, (Johnson 4). Johnson is poetic in his dialogue with the audience and it takes great skill to poignantly and captivatingly address congress on fiscal prudence. This tremendous skill is a testament to the quality of his oratory skills and exemplary leadership.
Johnson, Lyndon. “State of the Union.” Washington, 1964.
Johnson, B. Lyndon. State of the Union. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fv9aim1QJzM&t=1229s (Washington 1964).