The Presidential race is as thrilling, suspense-filled and nail-biting interesting as any Hollywood movie.
Bluntness and bombast has put billionaire Donald Trump ahead of the Republican pack. With a 39% approval rating his popularity is over twice that of his closest rival. However, many of the controversial statements he has made regarding minority groups has left political scientists baffled as to how he is polling so well. One way to fully understand how his numbers are so good is to take a look at his platform, most of which has been built on the foundation of his Presidential announcement speech. The anchoring statements he made there formed the foundation for his campaign.
An analysis of the speech reveals some pretty interesting points about his speaking style and his personality as a candidate. The first five minutes of his speech alone had the following statements. While no one is going to challenge the veracity of these statements, the way he said it and how he positioned them as the launching pad for his potential new career made the difference in his poll numbers.
- “How are they going to beat ISIS? I don’t think it is going to happen”
- “Our country is in serious trouble…we don’t have victories anymore. We used to have victories”
- “When was the last time anybody saw us beating China in a trade deal..they kill us..I beat China all the time…all the time”
- “When did we beat Japan at anything”
- “When do we meet Mexico at the border? They are laughing at us..”
- “The US has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problem”
- “And it has got to stop. And it has got to stop fast”
Trump weaves his magic using a myriad of techniques. The three that trump the rest are what we are interested in.
Firstly, Trump feeds off the uncertainties that plague the Nation. With a heightened sense of fear and anxiety caused by any number of shootings and the San Bernardino incident, Trump understands that people are frantically searching for answers, and thus, will look up to any leader that can promise them results. This is regardless of whether or not these results are actually deliverable. His slogan “Make America Great Again” is demonstrative of this fact. Ironically enough, in his Presidential announcement speech, he primarily focused on the performance of the United States overseas rather than focusing on our domestic performance. His first few issues included Chinese trade successes, the Japanese Auto Industry, Mexican Border Security, ISIS, and Iranian Nuclear Capabilities, before finally arriving at things like our national GDP or the domestic situation regarding gun control.
Trump understands that in times of national distress, the populace is focused on large, hot-button issues that have been widely covered by the American News Media, rather than subtler topics such as Climate Change that have largely been ignored. Simply put, Trump knows how to manipulate the emotions of his crowds. Additionally, Trump embraces the Messiah complex and utilizes it to the best of his ability. He sets for himself some very lofty goals and utilizes anaphoric figure of speech in order to convince people he is capable of doing these things. When it came to the potential solutions he was going to take to solve America’s problems, his favorite oratorical tool was the repeated use of the phrase “I will/would”.
- “I would repeal and replace the big lie, Obamacare.”
- “I would build a great wall…And I will have Mexico pay for that wall.”
- “I will find — within our military, I will find the General Patton or I will find General MacArthur, I will find the right guy”
- “I will stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.”
- “I will immediately terminate President Obama’s illegal executive order on immigration, immediately.”
Secondly, Trump isn’t afraid of controversy. He calls it like he sees it, and although his views might not always be politically correct, this is a strategy that works for him. Trump isn’t afraid to take a position that could alienate him with a voter base because he already knows what base of voters his ideas resonate with. Recent polls indicate that the majority of his support comes from the baby boomer generation, a primarily conservative group of adults that have held the same beliefs since before the 1990’s. It’s a smart move because the majority of young voters (those under 30) are still figuring out their political beliefs, and so they tend to vacillate on certain hot-button issues. While members of the left thrive off playing these nuances, Trump isn’t wasting any time by appealing to people who don’t feel the need to voice their political opinions, but still hold their positions on important issues.
Thirdly, Trump is a man of simplicity. He has boiled his campaign speech to a couple of key issues that he can focus the majority of his energy on. All of these issues are urgent; they are rather large and affect the American population immediately. This is as opposed to issues of larger scale that are more long-term like climate change. In this way, he can appeal to people’s emotions whilst keeping his platform small, thereby making it easier to defend. Additionally, he is man who makes use of grandiose gestures but uses a limited vocabulary. Thinkprogress notes “Trump’s favorite word, however, is “I.” His fourth-favorite word is “Trump.” Eight out of his 13 favorite words are one syllable, and the two syllable words are simple — “very,” “China,” and “money.” His only three-syllable favorite word is “Mexico.”” In addition, Trump tends to use extremely large hand gestures as opposed to sharp, precise ones. These gestures seem to convey the confidence and gravity of the issues he talks about, thereby making him seem like a better candidate to his voter base.
Feeding off of fear and anxiety, not being afraid of controversy and using simple language that anyone can understand is a potent combination for any speech – let alone a Presidential campaign.
In conclusion, we can tell a lot about a candidate by the speeches they give. But only time can tell whether they will end up in the White house.