Articles on Political speech

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Donald Trump is a spectre of things to come: of political performance in an age of projection rather than representation. EPA/Tannen Maury

Donald Trump: both the old crazy and the new normal

The faultlines in democratic politics are clear. On one side is a system of democracy that is bad at making people feel represented. On the other are anti-politician performers like Donald Trump.
‘Candidate’ has its roots in the word ‘candid’, to be frank. It’s hard not to believe that we’ve strayed a little from those noble aspirations. Cesare Maccari/Wikimedia Commons

From donkey votes to dog whistles, our election language has a long and political history

Many of the most commonly used election terms have a long linguistic history, stretching from ancient Rome to modern-day America and Australia.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz speaks at the Fox News debate in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28. Carlos Barria/Reuters

Politics of resentment on full display at GOP debate

According to an expert in political rhetoric, we shouldn't underestimate the power of the candidates who can skillfully tap into voter resentments.
Populists are on the rise on both sides of the Atlantic – Donald Trump (right) has even been called ‘America’s Marine Le Pen’ (left). AAP/EPA

Trendy electoral superheroes: from the Americas to Europe, the populists confront us

Populist politicians are on the march, first in Latin America, then in Europe and the US. They are on both the left and right, and their policies vary, but their approach carries the same risks.
Students protest at South Africa’s Stellenbosch University demanding the right to be taught in English rather than Afrikaans, which they identify with apartheid. Reuters/Mike Hutchings

Universities need to manage hate speech, not stifle freedom of expression

The university should be the bastion of the right to free expression in the promotion of democracy, and has a moral and ethical obligation to provide spaces for fierce debate and critical engagement.
Malcolm Turnbull’s relaxed and natural demeanour comes as a relief after Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard, except they were once like that too. AAP/David Moir

Can the ‘real Malcolm’ survive being PM?

Australians have seen their recent prime ministers lose the very qualities as communicators that took them to the top. Malcolm Turnbull's challenge is to avoid succumbing to the same fate.
Tony Abbott has twice compared Islamic State to the Nazis, but does that aid our understanding of terrorism and what needs to be done to defeat it? AAP/Richard Wainwright

When words fail: comparing Islamic State to the Nazis misses the mark

We need to find ways of speaking about the horrific actions of Islamic State that help, not hinder, understanding of the magnitude of those crimes and what needs to be done to combat them.
Liberalism means something completely different in South Africa compared with the US and UK, and has racist connotations. shutterstock

Navigating South Africa’s loaded political lexicon

Liberalism is a dirty word for the majority of South Africans. This goes back to early colonialism. Liberals opposed apartheid but not the close relationship between capitalism and apartheid.
The public response to the eulogies to Gough Whitlam testifies to the power of oratory that draws on and gives fresh life to memory. AAP/Alan Porritt

Memoria in Memoriam: Whitlam’s farewell invokes power of oratory

In a playful rhetorical flourish at the Sydney Town Hall on Wednesday, Indigenous leader Noel Pearson monumentalised Gough Whitlam’s prime ministerial legacy, Monty Python-style: What did the Romans ever…
Noel Pearson’s speech has been hailed as one of the great Australian political speeches. What were its stylistic characteristics? AAP Image/Fairfax Pool, Peter Rae

A closer look at Noel Pearson’s eulogy for Gough Whitlam

Gough Whitlam was a prime minister unsuccessful in three of his five federal election campaigns, including 1975’s extremely divisive contest. Somehow, though, his death has sparked an outpouring of kind…
There is little doubt that Tony Abbott – the pugilist, rugby player and ironman – has sport in mind when he describes Australia as a team. AAP/Julian Smith

Dead Poets Society meets Team Australia under captain Abbott

Australia’s prime minister Tony Abbott is uncommonly fond of sport metaphors, not least when addressing the domestic terror threat. His latest championing of “Team Australia” in trying to sell his government’s…
Tony Abbott’s smiling now, but if his hold on the leadership weakens some say the Coalition should go back to Malcolm Turnbull. AAP/Gary Schafer

Why spin trumps policy – until we build a new system of substance

Spin is widely seen as the scourge of contemporary politics. We rail at politicians who seem more intent on appearing to act, rather than coming up with and pushing through important policy decisions…
Joe Hockey’s budget speech forgot the age-old rules of rhetoric, which he needed to observe if he wanted to control ‘the narrative’. Lukas Coch/AAP

In government, a mantra is not enough to control the narrative

The annual federal budget speech is the one required speech of the Australian political calendar. And it goes all the way back to Federation. It’s Australia’s equivalent of the State of the Union address…

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