Visiting Congress

by Arianna Conte, CPLA Treasurer


No trip to Washington D.C is complete without a trip to the U.S Congress, and CPLA had the opportunity to sit in on proceedings in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. During the Senate session, we witnessed Senator Bernie Sanders (I, VT) and Senator John McCain (R, AZ) fist bump and hug; a truly historic moment. After that, the ten of us left the Senate with high hopes for the House, considering it was the day of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s testimony for her role in Benghazi.

We were faced with one of the longest lines I have ever seen. It took over half an hour to even reach the House chamber, presumably because everyone, ourselves included, wished to see where Hillary Clinton was called to testify. When we finally entered the House, the room was far from filled and two representatives were having and unexpectedly heated debate regarding US mining policies. The sponsor of the bill, from Wyoming, asked for increased mining of essential minerals in the United States in order to hinder the country’s dependence on international minerals. The other representative, from California, opposed the bill and stated that abandoned mines should be re-purposed for mineral drilling in an effort to be more environmentally conscious. We watched for about fifteen minutes before moving on to the next event in our packed itinerary.

This bill hearing was on my mind all day. It reminded me that what is important to me, what is considered a necessary issue in my part of the country, might not be a priority somewhere else, and vice versa. As a native New Englander mining nearly never crosses my mind, but it was clearly an important issue to those two representatives. It was a clear reminder for me that the United States government is a complicated, multi-faceted entity charged with the task of leaving the opinions of millions in the hands of a handful of people. Sitting in on this meeting gave a valuable view of the less-glamorous parts of government, and I am happy to have witnessed it.


Dos and Don’ts of Giving a Speech: 2016 Democratic Presidential Debate Edition

by Brianna Arrighi


At Emerson, effective communication is everything. All undergraduate students are required to complete a public speaking class before earning their degree. While most freshman enter their sophomore year knowing how to properly organize and deliver a speech, it would seem as though some of our top Democratic candidates need some pointers.

I decided to take a closer look at the introduction speeches given by Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Jim Webb during the 2016 Democratic debate on October 13th. Moderator Anderson Cooper allotted each candidate two minutes to introduce themselves to their audience. I evaluated both candidates’ speeches on the basis of structure and persuasive modes.

Hillary Clinton opened her speech with the following statement:
“I’m Hillary Clinton and I’ve been proud and privileged to serve as First Lady, Senator from New York, and Secretary of State. I’m the granddaughter of a factory worker and the grandmother of a wonderful one-year old.”

Immediately, her audience already knows her name and her experience in politics. She was also smart to list her positions chronologically, as this reminds people just how long Clinton has been active in the political sphere. By announcing her family ties as a granddaughter and a grandmother, she identifies herself as not only a politician, but a person like any other in the audience. Her ethos appeal gives her the credibility to go on to stress the importance of family in her campaign, as she does later in her speech.

Senator Jim Webb’s opening statement was longer and not as clear. He said:
“People are disgusted with the way that money has corrupted our political process, intimidating incumbents and empowering Wall Street everyday with the term-style government we see and also the power of the financial sector in both parties. We’re looking for a leader who understands how the system works, who hasn’t been corrupted by it, and has a proven record of accomplishing many things.”

There are several errors with the structure of Senator Webb’s address already. He didn’t bother to introduce himself by name, which would lead one to think that he assumes people already know who he is. He began by launching into a rant about Wall Street being corrupt, when the entire point of this two-minute speech was to introduce himself as a candidate. His first sentence was riddled with political jargon and it already presents an opinion about a specific issue. Webb should have established his credibility before delving into his beliefs as Clinton did so that his audience understood why they should listen to him in the first place.