January 2, 2016

This video is an excellent analysis of why Donald Trump is so effective at convincing certain voters to the point of slavish devotion. I highly recommend watching the whole thing.

The New York Times has an analysis of what he's said in his speeches, which arrives at the same conclusion as the video maker does.

The most striking hallmark was Mr. Trump’s constant repetition of divisive phrases, harsh words and violent imagery that American presidents rarely use, based on a quantitative comparison of his remarks and the news conferences of recent presidents, Democratic and Republican. He has a particular habit of saying “you” and “we” as he inveighs against a dangerous “them” or unnamed other — usually outsiders like illegal immigrants (“they’re pouring in”), Syrian migrants (“young, strong men”) and Mexicans, but also leaders of both political parties.


In another pattern, Mr. Trump tends to attack a person rather than an idea or a situation, like calling political opponents “stupid” (at least 30 times), “horrible” (14 times), “weak” (13 times) and other names, and criticizing foreign leaders, journalists and so-called anchor babies. He bragged on Thursday about psyching out Jeb Bush by repeatedly calling him “low-energy,” but he spends far less time contrasting Mr. Bush’s policies with his own proposals, which are scant.


And Mr. Trump uses rhetoric to erode people’s trust in facts, numbers, nuance, government and the news media, according to specialists in political rhetoric.

Dr. Joseph Goebbels wrote an essay about Hitler and his speaking style which seems as though it might be relevant here.

His ability to reach the masses is unique and remarkable, fitting no organizational scheme or dogma. It would be ridiculous to think he attended some sort of speaker school; he is a rhetorical genius who developed his own abilities with no help from anyone else. One cannot imagine that the Führer ever spoke differently than he does today, or that he will ever speak differently. He speaks his heart, and therefore reaches the hearts of those who hear him. He has the amazing gift of sensing what is in the air. He has the ability to express things so clearly, logically and directly that listeners are convinced that that is what they have always thought themselves. That is the true secret of the effectiveness of Adolf Hitler’s speeches.

I have resisted invoking Godwin's law when I write about Trump, but it's inescapable, and it's quite frightening. He has a way of inspiring the worst in people.

In the end, I don't think Trump will ride to the nomination. But I do maintain that he is still the placeholder for the candidate the hard-right corporate conservatives want: Ted Cruz. Nothing has happened to disabuse me of that, and Cruz has the ability to stir the same rhetorical response as Trump, but with an edgier, more menacing tone.

Cruz's campaign seems to be confirming that theory, or at least his campaign director does.

The call contained little talk of Cruz’s GOP opponents, save for a few references to his closest competition in many early voting states: billionaire Donald Trump. Mark Campbell, Cruz’s political director, told volunteers that a growing chunk of the “establishment wing of the Republican Party is coming to our campaign as the alternative to Mr. Trump.”

Bookmark this post and see if my prediction holds. I think it will. In the meantime, we'll keep watching Trump use his particular rhetorical style to keep the angry bigots stirred up and hungry.

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