Whether Americans want to admit it or not, Donald Trump has managed to become the country’s most trending cultural phenomenon of 2016. From the famous “Make America Great Again” slogan, to the internet memes, to the more serious news coverage and CNN debates, anywhere you look, the name ‘Donald Trump’ seems to pops up. Not many people can deny that he truly is an interesting man, especially considering his transition from entertainer to presidential candidate. What I believe is both the most interesting and at the same time the most dangerous aspect of Donald Trump is his rhetoric and it’s ability to make him both popular and hated at the same time
A large part of the influence of Trump’s words has to do with an external factor, the media and its relation to political and economic gain. News outlets often look for stories that will sell and bring in ratings, rather than stories that inform the public. Data provided by Google to the journalism site FiveThirtyEight found that 46% of the media coverage over the last three months about the GOP candidates was about Trump, as measured by articles that appeared in Google news. That’s compared to 13% of articles about Jeb Bush who got the second most attention (Https://www.facebook.com/NBCNews). A large part of this media coverage also had to do with what the general audience wanted to buy and read. Citing a Google consumer survey sponsored by Echelon Insights, New York Times journalist Nate Cohn wrote, “ Half of Trump’s supporters said they liked him because of his authenticity, compared with 14% who mentioned a policy” (“The Media’s Coverage of Donald Trump – Ballotpedia.”). In association with economical media gain also ties in the topic of production. A typical news story gets about 30-60 seconds of air-time, meaning that news sources have to use soundbites and can’t mention all the points presented in a candidate’s speech.
A textual analysis provides even more information on how Trump uses rhetoric to influence the public to his advantage. A journalist for Diggs.com conducted a linguistic analysis of a Donald Trump speech on Muslim immigration in order to show why people like him so much. He noted that Trump’s language, unlike most other candidates’, was very simple. Of the 220 word speech, 172 words consisted of 1 syllable and 39 words consisted of 2 syllables. For the majority of the speech, he refrained from using complex sentences and ended sentences with strong words such as ‘die’ and ‘harm’. Trump was able to top the GOP field while talking to voters at a 4th grade level (By A Hurricane Is As Gnarly As It Gets). The substance of Trump’s speeches/rhetoric also plays a huge role in obtaining the particular audience he attracts. Many of his speeches make use of stereotypes and prejudices believed by a huge percentage of American citizens. Perhaps the most famous campaign speech using such content was the speech on Mexican immigration to the United States. “When Mexico sends its people,” Trump said during his presidential announcement, “they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people who have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems.” (“Kohn: Trump’s Outrageous Mexico Remarks.”). Trump makes use of people’s fears and prejudices to find a scapegoat and promise the American people who under his leadership these various problems will be solved. He makes his pledged voters believe that if he’s elected president he can “make America great again” by deporting illegals who “steal” jobs.