My daddy had a doctorate in rhetoric. He taught speech in high school. I learned much about the art of public speaking and persuasion from him. I was reviewing the article on Rhetoric on Wikipedia tonight. I was reminded of many of the mechanisms of persuasion, the syllogism, the enthymeme, ethos, pathos, and logos. These building blocks of public speaking have been taught to our public speakers and statesmen since before Aristotle wrote the book Rhetoric in ancient Greece.
When I was a boy, I could listen to the politicians of the day make speeches. I could read transcripts of their speeches in news papers and journals. I haven’t heard any speeches lately. Our modern politicians speak in sound bites. They convince with one liners instead of well reasoned and crafted arguments. We don’t have a long enough attention span for that.
We used to have statesmen in this country. Individuals that served in the federal government because they felt it was their duty as citizens to represent their constituents and promote their interests and welfare. But somewhere along the line something changed. Now there are no statesmen. There are just self serving, greedy, puppets that do whatever their handlers tell them to.
It goes back to what I said about the eroding standards of education in a prior post. We want everything to be handed to us, predigested. We don’t want to think. We have been taught to regurgitate what we have been told. We don’t question whether it is the truth or not. Statesmen encouraged people to think about what they were saying. Our politicians just want to buy your vote with whatever empty promise they think will sway you.
I’m going to vote in the election this fall. But I sure miss the days of the statesmen. I guess that is the mark of growing older, missing the good old days of your youth. What will the youth of today miss when they grow older?