Monday, March 21, 2016

A Donald Trump Rally "Speech"

On my way to work this weekend, I was listening to the radio and I managed to catch most of one of Donald Trump's speeches to voters in Arizona. It was an interesting experience. Without delving into my personal politics too much, and while trying to avoid using biased terminology or tone, here are some of my takeaways.

Anything Worth Saying Once...

Donald Trump repeats himself constantly. And I don't mean that he circles around and hammers home a point he had made earlier in his remarks. I mean that literally he says something (like "the media lies"), and then immediately says it again (verbatim, "the media lies" again).

At first I thought it was just a nuance about the way he talks, but I think it's at least somewhat intentional. Trump is an accomplished salesman; in fact, I've heard him described as someone who's "always trying to sell you on something." Right now, he's trying to sell himself. Part of that is hammering home his strongest points, and another part is making sure that he sets himself up to be as quotable as possible. Two different instances of the same message gives two chances to find the best quote. You can disagree with his politics or dislike him as a person, but Trump is an extremely skilled seller.

Fear...But Also Safety

Trump has appropriately been lambasted for his repeated exploitation of the fears of many people about terrorism, about illegal immigrants, and about crime. But it's not just that he's reminding people about tragedies that have occurred; he's telling us that he can prevent them from ever happening again.

Obviously he doesn't have this capability, and again, I think he's probably aware that his "solutions" aren't going to be able to guarantee Americans' safety, regardless of his claims. But he's literally the only candidate in either party who's even proposed to have a way to address Americans' fears. He may be over-selling it, but everyone else has missed the opportunity to sell themselves as a protector in this time of uncertainty. As I said, I don't believe him, but he's smart to sell himself that way.

A Kind Word

Other candidates do this as well, but Trump goes out of his way to offer incredible compliments to his supporters. He also finds ways to phrase his brags as a form of complimenting his supporters. For example, he mentioned almost every state he's won through this primary season, totaling about a dozen times during the speech. But he fully implements the underdog mentality, the "us vs. them" line of thought, giving his supporters credit for "showing those stupid pundits how wrong they are."

When he says that the media is lying, he doesn't say "The media is lying about me." He says, "The media is lying about us." But "we're gonna show them, just like we've been showing them for months."

There's validity here again. Donald Trump is representing a group of people who have thus far been under-represented in government. They respond to his rhetoric, to the strength he conveys, and to his singularity in the history of American politics. We've never had a candidate like him (I assume; it's possible that James Buchanan was a real firecracker). He's funny, he's interesting, and he's got a powerful and recognizable personality.

Like I said, I hopefully left out any personal feelings I have towards Trump or any other candidate when writing this. There's no question that he's brought far more attention to the process than there's been in years past. I'm even considering paying for SiriusXM Radio, just to stay tuned in on my drives to and from work.

Trump has got me literally investing in the process. That's something.

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