In today’s class we continued our discussion of ethos, pathos, and logos by discussing this speech from Sen. Sasse given last week.

I chose it for a few simple reasons.

  • First, it’s yet another sort of political speech for us to look at: longer and more developed than anything we watched last week but also less official and structured than what you might see on the House or Senate floor.
  • Second, it’s a more sophisticated argument and so it takes a bit more work to follow and analyze, which is good.
  • Third, it allows us to bring civics into a class on rhetoric, which is also a good thing because a major part of being a responsible citizen is being a responsible communicator.

Near the end of class I mentioned a sketch that said some of the same things that Sasse is saying in this speech. You can see it here:

For next week, think about potential topics for your paper.

Reminder: The term paper is due in-class December 19, which is the final day of class. The assignment is a 1000 word persuasive essay arguing a viewpoint you do not agree with.

One concern raised in class is that it seemed like you basically could go super-serious with this (something on Christianity proper or abortion, for example) or super trivial (“grape jelly is better than strawberry jelly!”) and it seemed like there should be something in between those two extremes. To help with that problem, here are a few ideas for what you could do. Do note that some of these will likely require a bit more reading on your part to do well.

  • The 13 colonies should not have declared their independence from Britain. (You could make this argument from Scripture, from broader Christian history, or just from more basic political considerations by arguing that Britain’s rule had done nothing to merit such a strong reaction from the colonists.)
  • In that same vein, you could look at any number of other historical events: Should Truman have used nuclear weapons to end World War 2? Should the United States have fought in Vietnam?
  • There are other topics you could pick out that are not quite as loaded as “Is Christianity true?” or something like that.
    • Should we raise the minimum wage?
    • Should we legalize gambling in Nebraska?
    • Should Nebraska have capital punishment?
  • You can also go the advertising route and try something there: Is there a product that you don’t like that you could¬†write a promotional piece for trying to persuade people to buy it? Maybe you really like iPhones but could write something on why people should not buy iPhones. You can get creative here.

I’ll keep this post updated as I have more ideas.