Ronald Reagan: The Great Communicator 

Basic Information:
Date Given: October 27, 1964
Reason Given: Reagan gave this speech as an endorsement for the campaign of Barry Goldwater, who ran for president of the United States in 1964.
Effects: This speech sparked the beginning of Ronald Reagan's political popularity and success. During this speech Reagan mentions that he was a democrat, but has recently become a republican. He became the face of the Republican Party and the leading contender for the nominations at later dates.


Ronald Reagan is a successfully communicates his point of view during this speech based on his use of personal anecdotes, development of personal attachment to controversial issues and appeal to the nature of people. During Reagan's address to this audience of conservatives, he frequently relies on anecdotes to personalize the speech. He makes reference at one point to a Cuban refugee who had commented that he was luckier than Americans because he had a place to escape to from a country that was oppressing him. Reagan's point with this story was to point out that there is no other country like America. He was depicting the idea that the freedoms Americans enjoy are unique through this anecdote. Reagan, whose primary reason for giving this speech was to endorse and promote the campaign of Barry Goldwater, also tells a story about Goldwater and his son. He creates the image of a man who wants to see his son succeed, something that most parents can relate to. Reagan explained that Goldwater told his son, "There is no foundation like the rock of honesty and fairness, and when you begin to build your life on that rock, with the cement of the faith in God that you have, thenyou have a real start." Whether  listeners politically align with republicans or democrats, they can relate to the ideas of honesty and justice and would potentially support a man who embodies these characteristics. War, or the possibility of war, can often seem distant and not "real life" for many people who do not have family directly involved or are not directly involved themselves. Reagan says, " I wonder who among us would like to approach the wife or mother whose husband or son has died in South Vietnam and ask them if they think this is a peace that should be maintained indefinitely." This comment makes war more personal. This statement is intended to make the audience think about their opinion of the possibility of another war against communism. It is easy to say, "I do not believe in war, we shouldn't keep fighting communism, there is not point." There is validity to arguing that this stance dishonors those who have already lost their lives for such a cause. Reagan points out that war isn't distant or impersonal, but rather it is something that has lasting effects in which the memory of those who fought and died are honored. A mother or wife who lost a son or husband is a vivid picture that could cause someone to reevaluate their opinion about whether or not defending democracy is the correct course of action. Reagan also relies on history to convince the audience to agree with his point of view. Appealing to the past  is very effective. Since it has already occurred, it fosters feelings of security and there is no fear. The future can often seem uncertain and frightening to some. When Reagan references the past, it makes doubters feel certain again and instills hope that the future will be as bright as the past he is alluding to. He also makes it clear that this success in the past did not come without sacrifice, and in some cases it came only through the sacrifice of one's life. Reagan says, "You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin—just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard 'round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn't die in vain." "A Time for Choosing" not only paved the was for Ronald Reagan politically, it outlined his ideology very well and is very hopeful and persuasive.