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Best Political Speeches

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So I was watching some DNC convention speeches and I was wondering what you guys think are some of the greatest speeches in politics?

Immediately I'm reminded of Cuomo's 1984 Convention speech and President Obama's 2004 DNC speech and maybe the Gettysburg Address, if you want to call that a full speech.

In foreign politics, I've listened again to Enoch Powell's Rivers of Blood speech and am reminded of what a tremendous orator he was. 

I'm obviously neglecting a huge amount of fantastic oratory pieces but those four are what come off immediately. What do you think?



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Here in Austria I know of a memorable speech (at least a section of one) of former Chancellor Leopold Figl (1945-1953). :)

It was actually his Christmas speech in 1945, which was broadcast to the people via radio.

"For your Christmas tree, even if you have one, I can give you no candles, no crust of bread, no coal for heating and no glass for your windows. We have nothing. I can only beg of you one thing: believe in this Austria of ours!"

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-Ron Pauls "What if" speech

-Franklin D. Rossevelt "Fear itself" speech

-Ronald Reagan "A time for choosing" speech

-And Mario Cuomos 1984 DNC Speech

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Canada had a PM back in the early 1920's named Arthur Meighan who was an absolutely amazing orator - perhaps the best whose ever been a Canadian PM. He was absolutely captivating, and was one of few Canadian (or world ) leaders who was a championship debate team captain in college. However, he had the tragedy of losing twice to Lyon William Mackenzie King, an absolutely uncharismatic droning bore of a speaker because of the context of the two given elections - King's big electoral strengths, political timing and being sharply in touch with the thrum of the electorate proved more powerful. BTW. I have a half-done 1921 Canadian election scenario with the first of these two situations covered that I may around to finishing.

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I like Huey P. Long's "Every Man a King," JFK's moon speech that he gave in Houston, RFK's speech after the death of MLK, FDR's "second bill of rights" speech, Obama's acceptance speech at the 2008 convention. I'll second Reagan's time for choosing speech, FDR's fear itself speech. 

Ted Kennedy also gave great speeches, as did Senator Byrd. I'd say Kucinich gives great speeches, but he lacks much personal charisma. Eugene V. Debs gave great speeches. 

I'm sure a lot of Deep South politicians gave technically great speeches, but what they were endorsing in their speeches were generally so toxic or regressive that I can't detach myself from the speech enough to judge the merit of the speech as a speech. 

Oh, Barbara Jordan of Texas is an amazing speechmaker. She should have been a supreme court justice. It's a shame she died early. If she were born ten or twenty years later, she would have been the first woman president, I think. She was probably the most incisive politician of the late 20th century when she spoke. 

Honestly, except for Reagan, I can't think of a single well-crafted speech by a Republican since Reagan. The Bushes, Romney, McCain, Dole, and other major Republicans of the 80s through today, were and are mostly uninspiring speechmakers. 

I'd say, overall, most speeches seem too scripted to be inspiring, even those by Democrats. I can't say any of the Clinton's have given outstanding speeches, although they've both made good ones. Dukakis, Kerry, Mondale and Carter have been uninspiring in their delivery. 

Going further back, Teddy Roosevelt and Robert La Follette were two great progressive Republican speechmakers. 

William Jennings Bryan is generally considered a great speechmaker. I've listened to part of one speech. "Cross of Gold." 

Orators of the 19th century of great note are Charles Sumner, Lincoln, Daniel Webster, John Quincy Adams, John Adams. Although, their oratory might not be exciting by today's standards, even Teddy Roosevelt makes obscure references to classical leaders and even now obscure economists, such as Turgot. 

If I had to make a list of our top 5 speechmakers, I'd say, in no order: Lincoln, FDR, JFK, Sumner and La Follette. 

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You know, even though most people have very sharp points of view about his philosophies, ideals, and what they led to going forward, in his day, when his appeal to a down-trodden worker and peasant class against what was very obviously, in that time and place, an out-of-touch and aristocratic noble and business class, Vladimir Lenin had a lot of amazing speeches in his day that, at the time, were very sincere and inspired a lot of hope initially, and he pinpointed clearly the big problems with a lot of the world in his day. Things just kind of took a nosedive sometime after the Bolsheviks actually did secure power. But, in the framework of the revolution itself, his speeches were truly amazing. I'm not endorsing Bolshevism, mind, just the matter of speeches here. I mean, honestly, what leader of any Communist of any era has a more well-known speech segment than "Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains." Also, at the time, his speeches weren't as toxic as say Hitler's or Mussolini's, because he was speaking, in that specific context, of empowerment of the masses, not violent, vitriol-filled scapegoating.

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