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Barack Obama’s Landscapes

The Unfolding Road as Metaphor of American Unity

Jonathan Berliner


Pages 99 - 112

open-access



This essay examines Barack Obama’s rhetoric during the 2008 presidential campaign. I argue that the use of metaphoric roads and landscapes in his speeches helped Obama to create a diverse political coalition by depicting the citizenry traveling together on a shared American journey. Such language also enabled Obama to bring together a range of policy objectives as stations along this common path. Obama’s campaign logo enhanced this political imagery by presenting a dynamic scene with the stripes of the American flag suggesting movement over a hillside set against the backdrop of a rising sun. The essay analyzes Obama’s use of these verbal and visual tropes in the context of similar rhetoric employed throughout the history of American public discourse from John Winthrop to Martin Luther King, Jr.

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