I chose to analyze Barry Goldwater and President Lyndon Johnson’s convention speeches using Voyant’s text analysis tools. This election has fascinated me because it portrays two radically different visions of American politics but whose candidates are remembered for different reasons. Comparing these two speeches makes these differences all the more evident. On one side, Barry Goldwater is a small government idealist, putting forth a vision based in natural right, liberty, diversity and freedom from government. He gives a speech of ideology. On the other hand, LBJ is a pragmatist driven who is driven by problems, not ideology. His speech reflects since, focusing on specific issues and programs as the impetus for government action. One is offering a vision for an enhanced welfare state, the other was providing the last chance to roll back the New Deal. In the words of Ronald Reagan, “It was a Time for Choosing” and probably the most pivotal election of the second half of the 20th century.
When comparing the speech in the Cirrus and Trends windows, it is fascinating how frequently both candidates use ‘world’ and ‘great.’ The focus, style, and grounds for each speech were very different, but they both shared a sense of destiny and this being a pivotal moment for the direction of this country and the world. For both candidates there was a clash of civilizations. The contexts feature makes this clear, showing how they would talk about the West, Europe, freedom and the fight against communism.
An interesting difference between the two speeches is Barry Goldwater’s emphasis on freedom. He uses it three times as often as LBJ as well as other words of defiance from both government and foreign powers like defense, firmness, courage, cause…. Goldwater’s speech is individualistic, and defiant. He praises independence as a value in its own rate. LBJ offers a message of unity. His language more communitarian and nationalistic with words like ‘American’, ‘people’, and ‘join.’ Quite literally, LBJ is speaking of a ‘nation’, using it far more frequently than Senator Goldwater.
A great example of LBJ’s use of language and the word nation is the line “our party and our Nation will continue to extend the hand of compassion and the hand of affection…” It exemplifies whose communitarian and nationalistic rhetoric and policies, as well as showing his issue focus in the name of compassion. The hand of compassion is a call for collective action.
Barry Goldwater’s use of nation cannot be more different. He uses it infrequently and only in the context of the individual. He argues that “this party, with its every action, every word, every breath, and every heartbeat, has but a single resolve, and that is freedom – freedom made orderly for this nation.“ Their use of nation could not be more different. For LBJ it was a call of duty for collective action and duty. For Goldwater it was project to insure individual liberty. I could not find a shared word or phrase that better clarifies the difference between the two candidates.