The significance of Trump’s rhetoric

Shae Slaughter

On both sides of the aisle, journalists, politicians and their supporters are immersed in the use of rhetoric. Without written speech and verbal communication the flow of information would be non-existent, so it isn’t surprising that the political realm has found a way to wield this power. Even people who don’t consider themselves to be “normal” politicians, like our current President Donald Trump, have found a way to manipulate words to suit themselves. In the continued wake of this year’s State of the Union, it is important to understand just what we’re hearing and seeing from our president. 

It is no secret that Trump is a repeat offender when it comes to saying things that are politically incorrect, offensive or even “alternatively factual.” Still, he got elected as our president, and some would wonder how someone who is so divisive could accomplish such a monumental task. I would argue that part of Trump’s political prowess actually rests in his repetitive and offensive rhetoric. 

There are certain buzzwords that come to mind when one thinks of Trump. The majority of Americans could probably associate him with ideas like “fake news” or “Make America Great Again.” His vocabulary, for better or worse, is cyclical. He continually repeats himself in a way that no other politician does. Some people reference this repetition to make an argument for his lack of intelligence, but it could prove to be just the opposite.

Yes, it is true that Trump’s speech is less refined than prior presidents’, but that makes it accessible to a wider variety of Americans. Since most Americans don’t have Ivy League degrees, this simplicity may be attractive in some situations. But Trump’s repetition also makes his ideas memorable.

Even those who are left-leaning cannot help but remember the words Trump types on Twitter or broadcasts vocally. You can roll your eyes at Trump’s depiction of CNN as fake news, but the more you hear it, the more you start to associate the two ideas. Trump uses this same tactic when he talks about “crooked Hillary Clinton” or “dangerous illegal immigrants.” Without our knowledge he is successfully planting a pairing of words in our minds. 

Moving past the president’s obvious linguistic quirks, Trump is also fantastic at diverting attention. People often laugh at his gaffes, whether it’s a misspelling in a tweet, an inaccurate statement or the misuse of a word in a speech. He is viewed as silly or inept, but still he is the focus of our conversation. Maybe these slip-ups are unintentional, but that doesn’t mean they are ineffective. 

Trump’s rhetoric is always enough to keep us distracted. There are entire news articles written about his flaws, but while we pay attention to these miniscule mistakes, there are so many other newsworthy things happening. While we grammatically correct Trump’s every move, he is able to slide shady policies, deals and actions right past us. 

It is hard not to get distracted by Trump’s lack of eloquence. Nonetheless, it is important to acknowledge the cleverness of his verbal and written speech, whether it is intentional or not, because all publicity is good publicity, right? Still, if we continue to pay attention to his grammatical inaccuracies instead of how they manipulate us, we will most certainly be missing out on the bigger political picture.