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Essay 1 – Introduction to your political party

Basic unit of discourse

Your assertion

Your assertion

rhetorical part: assertion, support, explanation

analogy: pull out your gun, load, aim and shoot

Your evidence

Your evidence

An assertion is like a gun. Anyone can pull one out and start waving it around. By itself, an assertion is an opinion, all talk, lots of fervent belief, but nothing else. To make it more persuasive, all you can do it raise your voice, wag the gun more wildly.

The support is the bullets. It’s what you load your gun with. A loaded gun is a lot more threatening. It can, potentially, do a lot more damage than the gun by itself.

However, to effectively communicate, you need to pull the trigger. No matter how good your gun and your bullets, you’re never going to hit your target unless you pull the trigger. Your target is your reader, and that’s a singular “reader”, on purpose. You cannot shoot everyone with a gun. It’s pretty much one at a time.

Same with an essay. Don’t try to write to “everyone”. Write to one specific person, one reader. You need to explain what you want your reader to get out of the evidence. Then it’s not just your opinion against someone else’s. It’s your substantiated, explained opinion, which is more persuasive and carries more weight than the opinions of those wagging their guns at each other.

Assignment

due September 29

What is your party all about? The voters want to know.

Rhetorical mode: definition

Length: at least 750 words. If you have 100 words in the introduction and conclusion, that leaves fewer than 200 words for each body section.

The title of this essay should be the name of your party followed its slogan.

The Dutch GroenLinks (Green Left) party recently began using a new slogan: Tijd voor verandering – Time for a change.

One way to structure your essay

Emphasize your mission, vision, and values

Begin the introductory paragraph with a statement to catch the voters’ attention. The rest of the introductory paragraph should tell the voters what to expect — an overview of your party’s mission, vision, and values. The thesis statement summarizes what the party is all about, the overriding idea that the mission, vision, and values support.

Your party’s mission is its purpose. For example, your party’s mission could be to make America great again or make it more inclusive and diverse or to make it better for entrepreneurs to make their fortunes.

Your party’s vision is what it sees for the future. For example, your party’s vision could be an America that lives up to its promise for opportunity for all, not just some. The U.S. Democratic Party’s vision, from their web:

Democrats believe that cooperation is better than conflict, unity is better than division, empowerment is better than resentment, and bridges are better than walls.

It’s a simple but powerful idea: we are stronger together.

Your party’s values are the principles it uses to inform its platform positions. For example, the U.S. Green Party lists their values, including:

  • Ecological Wisdom
  • Social Justice and Equal Opportunity
  • Nonviolence

Each body section should discuss them in this order: one section on the mission, another on the vision, and the last one on the values.

Another way to structure your essay

Emphasize your major positions

Begin the introductory paragraph with a statement to catch the voters’ attention. The rest of the introductory paragraph should tell the voters what to expect — an overview of your party’s mission, vision, and values. The thesis statement summarizes the three or four main areas where the mission, vision and, and values play out in policy.

Each body section should discuss the areas in the order you listed them: one section on each area.

No matter which structure you use, within it, you need to use the basic unit of discourse described above.

Begin each section with a clear statement, your topic sentence. Support the statement with evidence (valid and relevant facts and data). Note in the text or in a footnote where the interested voter can learn more about that evidence. Either after that or as you go along, explain how the evidence supports the statement. That’s the important part: tell the voters how to think about your evidence to lead to your conclusion, that is, the topic sentence of that section.

The conclusion should sound much like the introduction. Instead of telling the voters what to expect, tell them what they just read.

Remember, you are not trying to persuade them to change their behavior. You are trying to inform them about a brand-new political party.