Words are important. Agreed?
Among other things, words communicate one’s philosophy and world and life view, that is, one’s perspective on life. Last night our current president gave his State of the Union speech. He communicated his perspective on life by the words he used. So have all the presidents before him.
Which would make for an interesting study: if you could research and chart the words the previous presidents have used, and highlight the ones used the most, what would that reveal about them and about their view of life in this country and in the world?
Well, such a study has now been done and such a chart has now been made.
Kate Scanlon, writing for the “Daily ‘Signal” of the Heritage Foundation, summarized an Atlantic magazine article in which the main words U.S. presidents used in their State of the Union addresses were charted and graphed.
Here is part of her report and the graph that came with it. For more details, visit the link above, which also contains the original Atlantic article.
Whether written or spoken, the State of the Union address provides Americans and their representatives in Congress with an opportunity to learn about the president’s political philosophy and policy goals.
Researchers have studied these pivotal moments in American history to show you the words at the forefront of each president’s mind.
Utilizing the Bookworm platform for text analysis, The Atlantic combed through 224 State of the Union addresses to analyze the words each president used.
According to their research:
- The three most recent presidents—Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton—are the most frequent speakers to use the word “Americans.”
- Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush said “budget” most often. They were also the most frequent users of the word “God.”
- “Freedom” was most often said by Reagan, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and both Presidents Bush. Obama has used the word “freedom” in his State of the Union addresses less often than any president since Warren Harding.
- President Jimmy Carter used the word “inflation” vastly more than any other president.
- Presidents James Buchanan and Andrew Johnson said “Constitution” the most.