Topic

Barack Obama’s 2008 victory speech focuses on three main topics: hope, change, and responsibility.

While these are the underlying themes of the speech, you should also note that the speaker touches upon specific domestic and foreign policy issues when he explores these themes, such as the need for new jobs and economic improvement, the threat of climate change and American's foreign relations. (ll. 80-83).

Change and hope

Barack Obama won the election after eight years of Republican rule, at the start of the 2008 economic crisis, and while the US was involved in two wars. The speaker consequently focuses on themes that are relevant for the audience in these circumstances. The themes of change and hope were also at the core of his electoral campaign, so it made sense to use the occasion to explore them further.

In the speech, change is represented by his election as US president (being a Democrat and an African-American) which should bring hope to the audience: “because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.” (ll. 19-20).

Using the word “change” six times in his speech, the speaker advocates for the whole of American society changing – both politicians and people: “This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that ...

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