Sooner or later, we were going to be treated to an academic analysis of Trump’s political rhetoric which would conclude that he was introducing a style of political speech which was more nasty, angry, and vulgar than any political rhetoric previously used or heard.
The authors of this piece are faculty at universities in Germany, Switzerland, and Israel, and they have run 24 million quotes made by 18,627 American politicians between 2008 through 2020, looking for negativity in content, a perspective driven by a Pew survey which found that 85% of respondents believe that political debate in the United States has become ‘more negative’ in recent years.
And what reason do the researchers give for this change in how public figures debate political issues? Donald Trump — that’s what. A majority of the individuals who answered the Pew poll blame Trump for the increased negativity of political rhetoric and the detailed calculations by the researchers who did the Scientific Reports piece appears to bear this out.
With all due respect to academic research and academic researchers, I knew that Trump had injected a new and grossly negative communication style into politics the first time I heard him lead one of his rallies in the ‘lock her up’ chant. But what struck me as I listened to the crowd lustily booing every time Trump mentioned Hillary’s name or words like CNN, was how Trump was able to play on the anger of his audience.
So, the question which the researchers of this otherwise excellent piece didn’t answer or even consider is this: When the Pandemic is long over, and the price of gasoline is back to where it was before the ‘ruinous inflation,’ and the unemployment rate is under 4%, how come so many people are so pissed off? Because if you want to define Trump’s ‘base,’ if you want to figure out who he appeals to most of all, you have to start with how angry his audiences seem to be.
And my answer to that question is this: With the advent of social media, for the first time we have a communication environment which doesn’t just give time and space to the…