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Ronald Reagan, the former movie star who turned into the outstanding American president, delivered his masterful historic speech named “Evil Empire” in front of National Association of Evangelicals on March 8, 1983. Ronald Reagan manages to establish credibility with the audience from the first minutes of his speech. From its very beginning, he makes himself closer to the audience, as if he “lowers himself to the same level” to become more real to them (Evil Empire: the fight and the forewarning, N.D.). He expresses his sincere appreciation to the audience saying “Thank you for your prayers. Nancy and I have felt their presence many times in many ways. And believe me, for us they’ve made all the difference.” (Evil Empire, 1983).
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His tone of conversation to the assembly sounds trust-worthy as if he speaks to someone close and dear. Repaying his “personal debt of gratitude”, he speaks as if he is expressing his gratitude to every listener in the audience for understanding and support. (Evil Empire, 1983). “The sentences get shorter, and the vocabulary becomes more conversational” (Evil Empire: the fight and the forewarning, N.D.). To establish credibility between the audience and himself, Ronald Reagan begins his address with a mix of peppered jokes and anecdotes to remove any tension and constraint. He quickly “lightens up the mood with two funny jokes” and manages to win the audience. (Evil Empire: the fight and the forewarning, N.D.). A chorus of loud laughter amidst the audience makes the atmosphere in the room more comfortable and warmer. It further helps to create friendly relationship between the orator and the audience. Besides, the American president successfully manages to deliver his address almost without any textual support, in rather a conversational manner, although the speech is formal. He rarely refers to his notes and demonstrates extraordinary memory. His speech resembles a hearty conversation with the audience he would like to share his internal thoughts and worries. Such practically eye to eye contact with the audience benefits the orator to the great extent.
In the “Evil Empire” speech Ronald Reagan raises critical and burning issues of the “modern” American society, making the accent on vitality of the eternal values, ideas and moral principles for America’s present and future existence. He says “the basis of those ideals and principles is a commitment to freedom and personal liberty that, itself is grounded in the much deeper realization that freedom prospers only where the blessings of God are avidly sought and humbly accepted” (Evil Empire, 1983). He calls to adhere to the same principles and respect the values upon which America was grounded, giving the citations of the great politicians. He straightly criticizes secularism, racism, any “ethnic and racial hatred in this country”, any examples of moral decline and deterioration of the American’s community, an attempt to twist the meanings of Good and Evil, Liberty and Immorality (Evil Empire, 1983). His voice sounds strict and confident, and he finds great support from everybody in the audience so that it makes the audience applaud him standing. He also makes the accent on some good amendments in the legislation they have managed to do for “a spiritual awakening” and “a moral renewal” of the country. In parts of the speech dedicated to the Soviet Union, he sounds uncompromised and firm in his readiness to “keep America strong and free” (Evil Empire, 1983). Reagan appears in front of the audience as a true citizen who is anxious for the country he lives in and fights against “apathy” in American society.
Without any doubts, Reagan’s speech is not deprived of charisma. Being in his past an actor, Ronald Reagan is proficient in his skill to attract and conquer the hearts and minds of the audience. Giving his speech to National Association of Evangelicals, his explicit address to the audience does not leave anybody indifferent. On the contrary, people are greatly impressed and full of inspiration. It is rather difficult to achieve if the orator is not a charismatic personality.
President Ronald Reagan utilizes various types of appeals to support his speech and keep the audience alert. He manages to have a strong eye contact with the audience, makes little movements to assure the gathering in his steadiness and control. His voice sounds loud enough to persuade the audience in his confidence and strength. His tone is clear cut and deliberate. Anybody may notice a strong emotional interconnection between the speaker and the assembly during Reagan’s address. A friendly loud laughter and applause during the speech serves as evidence of emotional contact. Moreover, Reagan’s speech is penetrated with examples and citations of the Great Americans for supporting his point of view or demonstrating the amendments in the law as regarding the parents’ notification about abortion, life guarantee for the disabled and handicapped infants and etc. His language and a style of non-verbal communication with the audience are rather plain and habitual, easy for perception and realization. The entire speech is constructed on the basis of credibility, emotional contact and logical chain of the issues.
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The main point of Ronald Reagan’s speech is the demonstration of a firm intention of America to stand on the same traditions and values of Christianity it has been grounded on, adherence to democracy and freedom, respect of any human being’s life and liberty. It pursues the aim to awaken the American community, to renew “the traditional values that have been the bedrock of America's goodness and greatness” not to turn into Evil Empire where the “morality is entirely subordinate to the interests of class war.” (Evil Empire, 1983).
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