What if the only written word ever published was written by the President of the United States? What if that president was, oh I don’t know, Donald Trump? What if the only written word the citizens of the United States read came from Trump and the media was controlled by Trump? What if you, an upstanding citizen, wanted to question Trump’s rhetoric? How would you do it? Luckily, we have a super power that allows us to do just that. Richard Young and Patricia Sullivan quotes David Olson in their essay, “Why Write?: A Reconsideration,” published in Classical Rhetoric and Modern Discourse; “…writing makes us not only more perceptive readers but more willing to challenge the authority of the written word” (216). So writing, then, is a powerful tool for communication, especially for political discourse.
The ability to communicate effectively gives a person a bit of power over their audience, but if the people in the audience are aware of certain conventions, then they are able to challenge the speaker’s argument. Young and Sullivan quotes Walter Ong as saying, “…there is no way for persons with no experience of writing to put their minds through the continuous linear sequence of thought…” (216). In other words, without having practiced the art of writing, it would be challenging for someone to think and speak logically or even to recognize the rhetorical moves of the rhetor. Of course there is some evidence that contradicts this, but for the most part this statement holds true. The most persuasive person is usually the person with above average speaking skills. They can con skin off of a snake and then sell it back to him for top dollar. However, if the audience is familiar with the logical structure of writing, then they may engage in the discussion rather being propagandized. Writing can be hard, but the benefits of learning to do so are immeasurable.
Young, Richard and Patricia Sullivan. “Why Write?: A Reconsideration.” eserver.org. http://eserver.org/courses/spring2000/76101c/young.html. 26 Sept 2016.