Strict Father Bush and Nurturant Parent Obama : An Ideology Analysis of Presidential Acceptance Speeches, Portraying Conservative and Liberal Metaphors in the Nation-as-Family Theory

University essay from Södertörns högskola/Institutionen för samhällsvetenskaper


This essay will show how conservatism and liberalism is established and maintained in American presidential rhetoric, by analyzing the speeches held by George W. Bush in 2000 and Barack Obama in 2008 at their respective party’s national convention, at the time when they accepted their party’s nomination for the presidency for the first time. By conducting an ideology analysis by examining the language used in the two speeches, and connect that to the metaphors of morality in George Lakoff’s (2002) theory of the Nation-as-Family, the essay will show examples of how the two presidential candidates establish themselves as bearers and protectors of their party’s ideological base and how this can be related to the view on moral in American politics.

The Republican Party connects to conservative ideology and the Democratic Party to liberal ideology. The Nation-as-Family theory involves looking at the relationship between the government and its citizens as that between parents and their children. Connected to conservative ideology is the Strict Father who proclaims authority, obedience and character and connected to liberal ideology is the Nurturant Parent who proclaims nurturing, empathy and equal distribution of opportunities. Connected to Strict Father and Nurturant Parent there exists a number of metaphors of morality that helps organize the language being used.

Although notions of the ‘wrong’ moralities appear in the ‘wrong’ speeches, the results from the analysis clearly indicates that the Nation-as-Family theory is highly valid in displaying the connections between political speeches and the ideological bases to which the speakers adhere.

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