A presidential candidate is very similar to an actor. They both perform through employing various strategies around their body language, tone, and diction choice to grab the attention of the audience or voters. Their performance creates an impression on the viewer, which, for the candidate, is very critical to their election outcome. Therefore, candidates like Senator Obama and McCain in 2008 prepare for every debate and public appearance to create a certain impression to try to entice the voters to vote for them. Americans, especially Millennials, however, want to believe that the candidate is giving an honest response, not a rehearsed one.
Americans want an impression of sincerity, not only on the presidential level, but everywhere. In 2008, Senator Obama, even after a devastating loss in the New Hampshire caucus, gave off the impression in his speech that he is a very gracious and kind person. Obama started his “Yes We Can” speech by congratulating Senator Clinton and asking his crowd to cheer for her victory. Obama decided to acknowledge Clinton’s victory at the beginning of the speech to show that he was not that upset at the loss, which gives off the impression that he’s a very humble man; he is gracious in defeat.
Therefore, his audience has this impression that he’s a very nice person. Because his audience believes that he’s a very nice and humble person, they’re more likely to believe what he says at face value. Senator Obama extended this performance to include the image of him as a very appreciative, approachable and likable person. Right after the crowd applauded for Senator Clinton, he starts smiling. He smiles to make himself look more approachable and likable, which also strengthens the image of him being a kind person. Obama then transitioned onto highlighting what his campaign, especially the voters, has done over the past few weeks.
While at the same time, he was directly addressing the audience by using the word “you,” which caused the audience to feel that Obama is addressing them. This causes the audience to feel that Obama is appreciative of all the support his supporters have given him. The audience also feels that all of their struggles to vote for Obama is not in vain. All of these effects cause Obama to appear as a person who is very thankful towards all of his supporters for all the work they have done. Senator Obama throughout the speech so far has worked on creating an image of him being a person who is very trustable.
He creates this image before he pivots onto his real message so that the audience is more likely to believe that his message is how he truly feels. Obama’s “Yes We Can” speech’s main topic was change. Not just any kind of change, but more specifically, change for a better future. Change, he argues, “ is also about what you, the people who love this country, the citizens of the United States of America, can do to change it. ” This gives the impression that the power to change the United States lies on the hands of American citizens; they can actually shape with their own hands, the future they want to live in.
This creates the impression that Obama cares about their future. But at the same time, this message is implying that their vote for him can help foster change in the United States. However, his previous performances created this impression of Senator Obama as a person who is very trustable, so those words combined with his performance created an impression that he is a candidate who truly cares about the nation’s well being, or in the other words, he sincerely cares about the United States’ citizens welfare and what he is saying does not feel rehearsed.
Senator Obama enacted an amazing performance in his “Yes We Can” speech, and he repeated similar performances of this caliber throughout the remainder of his campaign, but at the same time, his opponent Senator McCain, failed to do so. Senator McCain became the republican nominee after his Wisconsin primary victory. In his victory speech, McCain rushed to his main point of his speech, which meant he failed to build enough of an appearance that made his main argument become more believable. An example of this is that he only smiled right before he started the speech, but his smile didn’t even last three seconds.
Because his smile was so short, the appearance that Senator McCain is an approachable and nice person was not as strong as Obama’s smile during his “Yes We Can” speech. Throughout the speeches, Senator Obama appeared as a more thankful and appreciative person compared to Senator McCain. Senator McCain briefly glossed over his thankfulness of what his voters have done. He only thanked them briefly, while Senator Obama spent a long portion of his “Yes We Can” speech on thanking his supporters and showing them how thankful he is for their support.
This causes Senator Obama to appear as the candidate who is much more thankful and appreciative for all the support his voters have given him. Senator Obama was the better performer throughout the campaign, which lead to him being perceived as the more sincere candidate. Senator Obama drove home the message that his campaign is about change for a better future, while Senator McCain in his speeches did not drive that message home. This causes Senator McCain to look like a person who is less invested on improving the future compared to Senator Obama.
All of these factors combined make Senator Obama appear as the candidate who is more serious about improving the future because his performances gave off a stronger impression that he is the more sincere candidate that wants to change the future. While Senator McCain’s performances failed to give off an impression as strong as Senator Obama’s for sincerity, which made Senator McCain’s speeches appear more rehearsed. As a result of that, his message of changes to fall on more deaf ears compared to Senator Obama’s message.
Senator Obama’s appearance of sincerity for a better future is a major reason why so many Millennials voted for him and why he eventually won the election. Senator Obama’s general election youth voter turnout was the second highest in history, with a majority of them voting for him (). This implies that Millennials were very motivated by Senator Obama’s appearance of sincerity for a better future to vote for him. Which also implies that Millennials, and most of America, since he won the election, want sincerity. But the desire for sincerity is not only on the presidential campaign level.
It’s literally everywhere. People now criticize actos for not being relatable (). People also constantly criticize singers for also not being relatable (). A lot of Millennials also use the word “fake” as an insult towards one another. These factors combined implies that people, especially Millennials want someone relatable to them, or in other words, someone who is real, or sincere. People, especially Millennials, want to be able to relate towards actors, singers, other people, and even candidates. There’s a strong desire with the American people, especially with Millennials, to seek out sincerity.
It can be seen even in the most important theater in the United States: The presidential election. But it simply does not exist only in the presidential level. It is literally everywhere. People want essentially every actor and performer they see to be sincere and relatable. But this does not extend only to performers. People also want other people, including their friends, to appear sincere. The desire for sincerity is a very real and powerful. It even helped propel an African American to become the first colored president in the history of the United States.