Mark Thompson’s article, “From Trump to Brexit Rhetoric: How Today’s Politicians Have Got Away with Words,” reflects on the nature of rhetoric in today’s society, and how politicians are taking advantage of it to further their political agendas. His bias against right wing or republican politics, Donald Trump in particular, is apparent, but he argues that they are the ones who are using it the best. These politicians are able to use these tactics because of the distrust people have in the government and politicians that use rhetoric that a candidate that props him/herself up as having an anti-rhetoric stance, then people have an almost implicit trust in them. This trust is built on by the candidates with emotionally charged speeches, and statements that are meant to rile up crowds. This is seen in Donald Trump’s use of “Schrödinger’s Douchebag,” in which he says controversial statements, and then waits to see if he will back it up. The other example is the strong short statements by the Leave campaign in England: “Take back control. Independence Day.” This led us into our class discussion of the effectiveness of this type of rhetoric and why the divide is widening.
My hope for the discussion was that the rest of the group came away with an understanding of why Trump’s rhetoric is effective, and I wanted to do this through the analyzing of his speech and pointing out what Thompson highlights as effective. These being parataxis, immoderation, Schrödinger’s Douchebag, and clarity. Trump presents himself as a truth teller because he is not part of any political machine, and as an outsider. His word reflect that, and people latch onto it for the hope that the government actually does something for them. This is the audience that it works on; as educated young people, it does not work on us as much because the government has not negatively impacted us as much as maybe the rural poor that feels mistreated or forgotten by the American government. This call for of truth from Trump is working that much more because of his non-affiliation with the people that have caused this. His rhetoric, like all rhetoric, is pointed at a specific audience that is fed up with the gap between promises and reality.
The second line of questioning tried to get the classes opinions on what Thompson’s ideas were on what was causing this lack in confidence or gap. From the responses it seemed that the internet was good and bad because of the ability to look for unbiased sources, but also because of the ability to not look for unbiased sources. I mean that the internet allows people to reinforce their opinion much easier by only reading sources with their bias. This was as far as I was able to get with this discussion, but I had hoped that we would be able to discuss the shift from political rhetoric to what Thompson calls “advertising rhetoric.” This article raised interesting questions that calls for more discussion as a class to explore the more intricate ideas.