The Background

Political parties in the United States of America are typically thought of as being broken down into categories of:

  • Establishment Parties
    • Democratic Party
    • Republican Party
  • Third Party Candidates
    • Libertarian Party
    • Green Party
    • Constitution Party of the U.S.
    • Independents (no party affiliation)
    • Party of Socialism and Liberation (PSL)
    • Socialist Party USA
    • etc.

While the establishment parties are considered the “default” by many, third party candidates represent a greater deal of maneuverability and malleability from what is considered to be “the norm”.

However, third party candidates can also be further broken down into the following two categories during presidential election years:

  • candidates on 20+ state ballots

AND

  • candidates on less than 20 state ballots.

The Lowdown

With the above logic in mind, I have performed a genre analysis of the pages calling for its audience to take some for of action of three of the political parties that were active in the 2016 presidential election. The three parties include:

screenshot-2017-01-17-at-7-43-43-amscreenshot-2017-01-17-at-7-44-00-amscreenshot-2017-01-17-at-7-44-12-am

The most notable difference between the call to action pages for the three parties listed above lies in the extent of personal choice and agency is attached to the methods of involvement provided by each party as their audience is called to action.

 The Democratic Party calls for the audience to join them by literally working for them and provides job listings within the party.

screenshot-2017-01-17-at-7-51-52-am


The Green Party calls for the audience to…screenshot-2017-01-17-at-7-53-52-am by completing one or more of the following actions:screenshot-2017-01-17-at-7-54-23-am


The PSL calls for the audience to  screenshot-2017-01-17-at-7-54-39-amand gives the audience the options to:screenshot-2017-01-17-at-7-54-50-am.


The Breakdown

The Democratic Party, being one of the two establishment parties and therefore representative of the norm utilizes the typical red, white, and blue color scheme for its page. The page is also presented in a

screenshot-2017-01-17-at-8-08-50-am

The Democratic National Convention’s call-to-action page.

stereotypical job search format that is representative of the importance of hierarchy and conformity to the norm of the institution as opposed to inviting change from the audience. The call is to work WITH the Democratic Party, however, the reality is that the audience is being invited to work FOR the Democratic Party. This reality is further indicated by the word choice in describing the ‘responsibilities’ and ‘requirements’ of the job seeker.Screenshot 2017-01-17 at 8.21.51 AM.png

 

The Green Party, as both a party outside of the establishment parties, yet closer to the establishment parties by being on the ballot in 20+ states during the presidential election, rides the line between calling for conformity from the audience while still inviting change from the same audience. This is made evident

screenshot-2017-01-17-at-8-09-17-am

The Green Party US’ call-to-action page.

by the chosen color scheme of the party’s website. Green represents the platform of the party and symbolizes growth, renewal, and freshness.

 

The call for action from the audience actually invites the audience to participate in creating content and organizing with the party. Most importantly the call to action supplies the audience with a means of directly communicating with the party. Also, because of the Green Party’s close proximity to the establishment parties, the party makes use of the Helvetica font and organizes the body of the page in a block style. Like the Democratic Party’s use of the same typeface and block style, this is a design technique that is representative of order and conformity.

The PSL, the party furthest from the establishment parties of the three parties analyzed, is both outside of the establishment parties and calling for a complete revamping of the current system from capitalism to socialism. As such, the color scheme of the page is red, black, and white. Red is traditionally associated with socialism. Black is known to give

screenshot-2017-01-17-at-8-09-52-am

The Party for Socialism and Liberation’s call-to-action page.

an air of authority and power. While white represents a level of independence and distinguishes the politics of the PSL from those of the establishment parties.

 

Like the Green Party, the PSL calls for the audience to become involved with the party by signing up, directly communicating with, and/or joining the party itself. What distinguishes the PSL from both the Democratic Party and the Green Party is that along with the call for the audience to get involved with the party is an expectation that getting involved with the party means educating oneself about the party and the platform of the party. This clear connection between individuals becoming involved with the party understanding what the party stands for and a significant part of the party’s platform centering educating the people is a clear rhetorical strategy taken up by the party to “practice what it preaches” all the while facilitating as much community involvement as possible.

screenshot-2017-01-17-at-9-17-57-am

Another significant departure from the establishment parties’ tendency toward conformity with the norm is the PSL’s use of Droid Serif as the typeface for the body of the page. This is not a font that is considered to be the norm for governmental/prospective governmental communications. The choice of the typeface represents a significant departure from what is considered “acceptable” and branches into allowing room for that which is more representative.


The Claim

The call-to-action pages of the above three political parties not only represent a call to action, but also a very intentional rhetorical strategy to call for specific types of action, while actively not calling for other types of action.

The closer to establishment politics the party is the more limited the audience is in how much room they are given to take action with and in the party itself. The further away the party from establishment politics, the more freedom the audience receives to self-determine their level of involvement with the party.

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