WIP 11

To be honest, I am just as confused about what we can and can’t use for this video assignment as I was before we started talking about the copyright stuff. It seems to me that  as long as this video is not used to promote a certain cause that would raise money or promote certain people, then we can use anything. If this is simply a video made in an educational setting and that is not intended to be used for any other purpose, then how could we get in trouble for using anything that isn’t ours? I feel like as long as we cite everything we use that isn’t ours, then we should have no problem. I think we can use songs and videos that are not ours to achieve our educational goal for this class, as long as that is our only purpose (which it is). So I don’t really see how we have to balance fair use laws with author rights because for this project, we are covered under the laws. At least it seems it to me. I could be very wrong in which case I may end up going to jail. Think they’ll let me at least take online classes?

WIP 10

I talked a good amount about my TED talk video in last week’s work in progress blog, but I’ll touch on it in a bit more detail. It was very strange watching my video after my presentation. Between the quality of the camera, the lighting in the room, and my nerd glasses, the whole thing reminded me of like an 80s public service statement that one would watch in elementary school when the teacher was out.

Regardless, I was pretty happy with my TED talk and my overall presentation. I was able to practice it a good amount before hand and was pretty comfortable up there talking. That said, the whole atmosphere of the talk and that room definitely added to my anxiety. When I had practiced, I figured that I would be able to walk around like George said, but that was not the case. It threw me off a bit and the whole time I was swaying back and forth wishing I could walk around. That would really be my main critique of myself. Right at the end of my talk, I thought I maybe had spoken too fast but after watching the video it seems I talked just fine. Overall I was happy with this assignment and hope to get a decent grade on it.

WIP 9: TED Talk

I was the first in the class to present the TED talk, and I was definitely nervous. I had practiced my talk several times over the weekend, but was out of town for family matters so I couldn’t go to the room and scope it out before like I had hoped. If I had, I would have realized that we were confined to a small box to stand in rather than being able to walk around freely. I had practiced walking around and doing the triangle method, only to find out I had to stand in a box. That being said, I think it went pretty well. Once I started, the nerves went away and I just rolled with it. I didn’t have to stop and start over or find my place. There was once where I lost my point, but I just kept talking and BSing until I got back to my original point (hope you all didn’t notice).
Going back and watching my video was mad awkward, though very helpful. I noticed that I started by talking really fast because i was nervous, but ended up slowing down as I went. I also noticed that while in that box, I kept swaying back and forth the whole time. I guess I wasn’t used to being confined to standing as I would’ve rather been able to walk around. Overall though, I think I did alright and hope I get a decent grade


Mark S. Ryan

Professor John Minbiole

CAS 137H

29 October 2012

The Power of Your Vote

            The most basic definition of a democratic system of government is a government that is “by the people” (Oxford English Dictionary). It is a government that does not make the needs of one person a higher priority than another, and is a government that gives every subject an equal voice in the policy making process. In order for any government to be democratic, one must discuss the most fundamental aspect of any democracy: the vote. The vote is the most powerful tool of the common man in a democratic government and is the driving force behind every government action, policy and regulation. Voting is not just a right or a privilege; it is the basis of the American identity. Without the vote, the pillars of democracy vanish and the palace of democracy comes crashing down. But has the high and mighty United States Constitution always promoted true democracy? Does it today? Over the last century, the United States Constitution has changed to allow more power to voters and to put more emphasis on democracy. This mirrors the ever-increasing desire for personal influence on government in American culture and exemplifies the American desire for individual expression.

This country was founded on the principals of democracy and freedom, but its original constitution did not entirely reflect those ideals. The first elections in the country were exclusive to only white, male, protestant citizens. Most polling places required these males to also own some type of land to prove that they were responsible enough to vote. It is easy for a person of modern cultural beliefs to realize that this principle of restricting voting rights as morally wrong and undemocratic. However, it was not until relatively recently that the American society believed in equal voting power. Prime examples of this contemporary shift include both the women’s and civil rights movements.

It is well-known that female and non-white citizens of the United States were not always given the opportunity to vote in elections. The struggle for these groups to gain suffrage was not easy, but ultimately a success in expanding the power of the vote for United States citizens. The first landmark in these voting rights struggles comes with the ratification of the 15th amendment of the Constitution in 1870 that stated “The right of citizens to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude” (“Transcript of United States Constitution…”). This amendment seems straightforward enough, but individual States found ways to limit non-whites from voting in forms of poll taxes and literacy exams that would endure for another century (“15th Amendment to the Consitution”).  It wouldn’t be until the mid-20th century that these roadblocks would be cleared and people of all races could finally vote. The women’s suffrage movement was difficult as well and finally resolved in 1920 with the ratification of the 19th amendment that stated, “The right of citizens in the United States shall not be denied…on account of sex” (“Transcript of United States Constitution…”). The passage of these laws and regulations is significant in the expansion of democracy and voting power in the United States. In the course of several decades, the electorate of this country expanded from exclusively white males to any person above the age requirement to vote. This was a colossal aspect of the increased power to vote in the United States, but not the only case.

What is less well-known is the progressive era election reforms that took place in the early part of the 20th century (in the midst of the aforementioned expansion of voting rights) mainly in respect to senatorial and party primary elections. The original constitution of the United States had the upper assembly of congress composed of two senators from each State to be appointed by the State legislatures. This was an attempt to have State legislatures “cement their tie to the national government” so that the States would support the national government more (“Direct Election of Senators”). The framers of the constitution wanted to have a body of congress that was actually more removed from the people of the country that served long terms in order for congress to be productive. This productivity came at the expense of democracy by removing the people from the policymaking process.  The seventeenth amendment to the Constitution reversed this and since 1913, the public can vote for their senators (“Direct Election of Senators”).

Primary elections in the United States before the mid-1920s never existed much like senatorial elections didn’t exist before 1913. The candidates in each party to run for office were not directly elected by the people of the party, rather they were simply nominated by party leaders at conventions. The people of the party did not have a say on who their party puts up for the election like they do today. A movement started that put pressure on political parties to allow the people to have more say in their nominating process and by 1926, many nominations for political office were decided by primary elections (“The Future of the Direct Primary”). This new process of direct voting was “established for the purpose of giving the people the right to say who shall be nominees for public office. The convention system, on the other hand, takes out of the hands of the people the selection of candidates and gives it to a few persons.” (“The Future of the Direct Primary”). The direct primary is more evidence of the shift toward more democracy and increased power of the American voter.

Before any of these radical changes in election and voting rights, the public of the United States was expected to conform to the values of others. Before women were allowed to vote, they were simply expected to accept the government that men had created for them. Before non-white citizens were allowed to vote, they were expected to conform to what the white voters believed in. Before the public could vote for their own senators or nominees, it was simply expected to accept the candidates and senators that more influential people selected. All of the changes in voting rights and all of the election reforms over the last century have one main principle in common: they allow more people to voice their opinion and vote on more issues. It is this underlying value of self-expression in the United States that is in a state of change.

Today we see a whole different political world that is full of self-expression and individual beliefs, past the days of conformity and acceptance. This change is evident by the trend in party identification over the last century. It used to be that most people identified with a certain political party and always voted for the candidate or issue that the party platform supported. The number of true independents who did not conform to either set of political ideologies used to be relatively small. In 1945, the proportion of people in the United States that identified themselves as independents was only 15%. This number has steadily increased to 31% in 1988 and is up to 38% today (“Trend in Party Identification”).

The public’s need to stop conformity and its need for self-expression strongly correlate. As we have seen a decrease in political party conformity in the U.S., we have also seen a strong increase in self-expressionism movements. From the emergence of political movements such as the gay rights and disability rights movements, to new cultural developments in green energy or global awareness, the country is being flooded with changes that reflect the desire for self-expression. All of these new progressive movements are by-products of the increased importance our culture places on individualism that was catalyzed by and reflected in the increase in voter power of the early 20th century.

These changes in the voting system of the United States with respect to universal suffrage and voting power are reflective of American society’s constantly growing need for individual political expression. Individualism is a concept that blankets the United States, and the political realm is not immune. The days of accepting what the government decides for citizens are over. The days of conforming to a preset list of ideals are done. The days of accepting someone else’s political beliefs as your own are through. Its been apparent since the birth of our country that the need for true American democracy would never dissipate, and although it has never been fully achieved, the desire for true democracy has exploded over the last century and shows no signs of slowing down today.


Works Cited


“15th Amendment to the Constitution.” 15th Amendment to the Constitution: Primary Documents of American History (Virtual Programs & Services, Library of Congress). Library of Congress, n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2012.

“Democracy.” Oxford English Dictionary. N.p., 2012. Web. 25 Oct. 2012.

“Direct Election of Senators.” U.S. Senate. Senate Historical Office, n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2012.

“The future of the direct primary”. (1926). Editorial research reports 1926 (Vol. III). Washington, DC: CQ Press.

“Transcript of the Constitution of the United States – Official Text.” Transcript of the Constitution of the United States. The Charters of Freedom, n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2012.

“Trend in Party Identification.” Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2012.



For this paradigm shift paper, I think I want to do a shift related to politics and elections. There is a ton of information out there about voting habits and campaigns. My first thought is to write about the shift from candidate-orientied politics to issue-oriented politics. This is a shift from the American electorate looking at a candidate for their political values ideology, to them looking at issues presented by their party platforms. We have gotten away from voting for a person because we “like” them and their character, values, etc. Nowadays we vote for people because they are pro-this, or anti-that.

Another possible shift I may do is the shift in campaign strategies in the United States. I could possibly talk about the uprising of negative ads, the huge proportional increase of money put into campaign finance, or even new types of campaigns such as social media. I am not sure how much research will be available for either of these topics so I plan on initially looking at them both and choosing the one that I can find more information on.

WIP 4: Rhetorical paper draft

Mark S. Ryan

Professor John Minbiole

CAS 137H

5 October 2012

A Speech to Rally the Country

            There have been few times, since the United States has became its own country, that America has been attacked on its own soil. The United States was a country born out of a rebellion, and a country whose citizens have felt as though their nation is one with a dominant military and a strong sense of nationalism. As can be expected, any event that challenges the United States military might or national pride has been, and always will be, met with a strong retaliation from the American public. This was certainly true when the United States was attacked on December 7, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was decimated by Japanese military forces. It had been a long time since the United States had been directly attacked and the people of America were certainly less than happy. They looked to their leader, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, to restore the American valor. Roosevelt was charged with the duty the next day of speaking to Congress about a declaration of war on Japan. In a very simple, effective, and rhetorically driven speech, Roosevelt was able to convince Congress to declare war, while providing a sense of hope to a mourning American public

Roosevelt establishes his credibility and ethos as a speaker at the onset of his speech, which is common for most effective speeches. He begins by simply stating facts about the incident of the preceding day of the Pearl Harbor attacks. Statements like, “the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan” along with his statements about how they were in contact with the Japanese ambassador who showed no signs that the Japanese would attack show to the listener of this speech that Roosevelt knows all of the details of the attack and the U.S. relations with Japan. This establishes his credibility on the topic of the attacks and leads the listener to believe that Roosevelt knows what he is talking about when it comes to the attack.

These facts in the beginning not only build his ethos, but also appeal to the audience emotionally through is use of loaded phrases and diction. The most obvious example of this in his introduction is when he refers to the day of the attacks as “a date which will live in infamy”. He inserts this phrase as a type of side note, almost as if it has no purpose, when in reality it was very purposeful. The addition of this phrase in the speech sets the emotional tone of the speech and immediately allows the listener to identify with the words and mood of the speech as a whole. By adding this phrase that every single American agrees with on an emotional level, Roosevelt is able to lay down a foundation to construct a very effective argument. Other words in his introduction such as “suddenly and deliberately” reflect the feeling that this attack came without warning and struck the United States where it hurt. Roosevelt is mirroring the current feelings of listeners in the beginning so he can later manipulate them.

Roosevelt briefly takes a break from the emotional manipulation and primarily pathos driven argument to bolster his argument with a logos appeal. He states “It will be recorded that the distance from Hawaii to Japan makes it obvious that the attack was planned many days or even weeks ago”. He uses this deductive logical argument to prove to the listeners that it was beyond doubt that the attack from the Japanese was deliberate and meant to hurt the country. The breakdown of the his logic is sound; it takes a long time to plan an attack far away. Japan is far away, therefore Japan planned the attack a long time ago. This logic-based statement, along with the assumption that premeditated attacks are worse than spontaneous, is effective in persuading the listener that it was impossible for this attack to be spontaneous, and therefore makes Japan’s infringement on the American national pride even worse.

Roosevelt reinforces his argument that Congress need declare war on Japan with a variety of pathetic strategies throughout the rest of his speech. The most prominent of these appeals is his very obvious repetition of the words “Last night”. He repeats these words for every single country Japan had attacked the previous day in sentences that had parallel structure. The “barrage” of the words “last night” mimic how the Japanese empire destroyed Pearl Harbor with constant hit after hit. Its almost as if his speaking style mirrors the bombs dropping on the harbor and very effectively appeal to the deep sorrow and strong vengeful emotions of the audience thus leaving it to his audience to make the easy decision that we should enter the war against Japan. This appeal really sums up Roosevelt’s argument in favor of declaring war, but this is not the only argument he is trying to make at the end of his speech.

Roosevelt’s second argument, is less obvious and explicit, but is just as important and effective. The shift in the final sentences of his speech contain, again, mostly pathetic appeals, but for the argument that the United States should not give up hope because it will win the war.  He uses inclusive phrases that build a sense of national pride within his audience and the country. “But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us”. By saying “whole nation” and “against us”, Roosevelt is appealing to his audience’s patriotism and make the listener feel proud to be part of the country, even though it may have just been attacked.

Immediately after unlocking the door by appealing to American nationalism, Roosevelt is able to bust open the door of hope with just a single sentence. “No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.” This goose-bump inducing sentence leaves no room to allow the listener to doubt their national pride, might, and ability to succeed in the war. Roosevelt is so certain in this statement that America is dominant enough to win an “absolute victory” through its “righteous might” that the listener is unable to doubt him. By dissecting this sentence further, it is apparent that Roosevelt is strongly appealing to the emotions of his audience through his word choice, specifically through “righteous” and “absolute”. “Righteous” implies that America was destined by and given power by some almighty entity, whether it be God or some other divine power. It implies that there is no possibility to have a might stronger than the United States’. “Absolute” implies there are no other outcomes in a war with Japan than a victory. (This mindset is also reflected on the fact that we dropped two atomic bombs on Japan to win the war.) Two simple words illicit a wide range of emotions within his listeners that solidify his argument that there is concrete hope for the United States and that the future of the country is certainly positive.

In a time of crisis in the United States, the leader of our country was able to eloquently deliver a short and punctual speech that is considered one of the greatest in American history. In a speech under 500 words, Roosevelt was able to include logos and ethos rhetorical appeals while knocking his pathetic arguments out of the park. His assumptions about his audience were correct and he was able to manipulate feelings of distain and sorrow throughout the country into feelings of urgency and hope. He convinced Congress to declare war on the Japanese Empire. He convinced the American public that their country was still strong and mighty without a doubt. He convinced everyone that the future of our country was a future filled with hope, happiness, and above all, victory.


Works Cited

“Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation.” American Rhetoric. Ed. Michael E. Eidenmuller. 2001-2007. 1 October 2012

WIP week 3

I am so excited for this project. Last year in my AP english class, we looked at several ads that tried to be very persuasive and we looked at their rhetorical strategies. Most of them were boring ones that have the same old strategies, but this one was hilarious (and easy to analyze). This was a poster/ad made for Burger Kings in the Singapore markets. Burger King has since said that they hired a foreign advertising agency to produce this ad, and that it does not reflect their feelings and they do not want to exclude anyone by showing this ad. Yet they still kept it going for a good part of 2009 (I may have to double check on that year).

Please keep in mind that this ad is NOT FAKE. It is a real ad, and the description/caption on the bottom is hilarious. Please let me know your reactions to this one because it sure is funny. Aside from the funny aspect to it, I believe that I can effectively analyze the rhetorical strategies of this poster and produce a great report based on this ad. Here it is:


Work in Progress 2

Overall, I was pretty happy with how my speech went. I didn’t rehearse the speech much, but I didn’t want to over rehearse and make the speech sound memorized. I wanted it to have more of a candid feel where I was more giving a presentation rather than a speech. I believe I delivered my speech to the best of my ability, but am not sure if my content was great. Most people who had artifacts of civic engagement talked mainly on what the artifact was trying to get people to do. I was under the impression that we were supposed to talk about that, but also talk about the strategies it used and the argument it was trying to make. I focused mainly on the rhetorical aspect of my artifact because I had concluded that it was not effective at promoting civic engagement. I hope that is acceptable and that I didn’t focus too much on the rhetoric of the poster and not the engagement part of it. We’ll see how it all turns out. I was very impressed by a lot of the speeches this week. The bar was set high for those who still need to speak and for the projects we do throughout the semester.