The Reasons Behind Trump’s Success Stories

प्रकाशित मिति : मंसिर १६, २०७७ मंगलबार

– Yogen Guragain, New York

Donald Trump flirted with a political career by questioning the birthplace of the first Black president of the United States and is leaving tenure of being a president himself by discrediting the very foundation of American democracy- the Elections. Trump and his key allies’ suppression of truths have been able to cut through the fences of fact-checkers. Their fact-free statements have passed through objective, critical bars of the established media. And Trump’s apparent misrepresentation of history is not handicapped at the hands of the American people’s critical thinking capability. Vast numbers of people confided in Trump’s pathological presentation of lies and gave an Electoral College victory in 2016. Despite falsified statements on Covid-19 and other issues, Donald Trump obtained more votes in 2020 than when he won back then. He amassed new members into the Republican Party, which support him unwaveringly till this point. So, how is Mr. Trump, a novice Republican member, able to make its headway into the presidential mainstream of American politics?

Given his unorthodox stance, Donald Trump and his surrogates expected a huge pushback and were ready to deploy sophisticated defense mechanisms against their adversaries. This article hopes to analyze the rhetorical tools (in essence, they are more of psychological defense measures: projection, denial, false equivalence, personal attack; they have been stretched by Trump and his world to insert into their political rallying cries) Trump and his allies forcefully employed to establish their fringe narratives in the Republican politics and in the country itself. I will also illustrate key Trumpian thought processes that fit into such conversational strategies.

It is to be noted that a massive amount of Trump’s energy is spent upon attacking and mocking opposing parties rather than inspiring his supporters with its philosophy directly. Analysis of Trump’s such cynical speeches reveal they tend to project his own weaknesses into their opponents. ‘Projection’ is the most common defense mechanism that makes onlookers feel less sympathetic towards the perpetrator than the victim. A most common example would be a husband blaming his own domestic violence on his wife’s anger management issues. Trump’s familiar manner of chastising opponents as ‘loser’ springs from his own internalized sense of chronic losses in his business. The New York Times revelation of his tax filings over the years have shown Trump hardly has had a success to expand and build upon his father’s inherited properties. By the way, his father was considered a creator of massive wealth. Trump, who filed six bankruptcies, projects his own inherent setbacks in his business career by blaming his critics as losers. Moreover, his denigration of the celebrated war hero John McCain by putting him under the category of the loser is simply articulating his own frailty. The frailty is in many ways related to his feigning physical deficiency over joining the national army in Vietnam.

Trump’s persistent refusal of election results in the name of corruption is a prime example of ‘denial’ of people’s verdict that hurts his ego. Trump has a recurrent habit of avoiding the painful factual reality that runs counter to his self-esteem either by dismissing it as outright ‘fake news’ or by falsely rationalizing against it. ‘Denial’ is a psychological defensive mechanism in which a subject attempts to suppress or misinterpret stimuli that bring back hurtful memories. When the news of Hillary Clinton winning the popular votes by about three million votes came up, Trump immediately denied the reality and sprung to falsely rationalizing it as the votes of the illegal aliens.

Another frequent defensive technique Trump pitches to his advantage is ‘false equivalence.’ This logical fallacy occurs when a person compares two discrete issues or circumstances (they might have a distinctly related common feature) to reinforce his argument. He often uses him to deflect a question or relevant issue, thereby forcing the audience to take his problem lightly. Its prominent example can be drawn from an interview question Bill O’Reilly asked in 2016 in response to Trump’s attitude of approval towards Vladimir Putin of Russia. When O’Reilly disparaged Putin as a ‘killer,’ Trump also threw the American image under the bus by counterarguing that this country also involves killing and assassinations. The moral equivalence falsely shuts down the questioner because Putin, having a background in the Russian intelligence agency, assassinates or attempts to do so to his own fellow citizens, who disagree with him. One of the most disturbing equivalences Trump tried to strike was between rallies of neo-Nazis and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, VA, in 2017. Neo-Nazism is apparently a racist ideology of White Supremacists. James Alex Fields Jr., one of its supporters, deliberately ran a vehicle over its peaceful protesters and killed a person. Despite this act of violence, Trump minimizes their dangerous ideology by suggesting there are ‘fine’ people in both groups. Here, Trump seems to be teasing with his bigoted belief system.

Trump’s deployment of ‘whataboutism’ is unprecedented in distracting people’s attention from the issue that is being discussed with him. ‘Whataboutism’ is composed of ‘what about..’ meaning when somebody, without focusing on the subject matter being asked on, would rather shift to his opponent’s issues. In his interview with NBC’s Megyn Kelly in 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin employed the tried tactic of ‘whataboutism.’ When asked about Russia’s reported meddling in American elections, he changed the subject to U.S. interference abroad, thereby making it look like both countries are blameless. Trump borrows from this strong man politician of his liking. It is a very favorite tactic used by dictators, including from China and North Korea, who, when confronted with their massive systemic human rights abuses, defer to African Americans’ status in America. Trump’s shrewdness is reflected in his use of ‘whataboutism’ as he jumps to Obama’s countable cases of family separation for special purposes instead of addressing his documented policy of separating thousands of children from their parents at the Southern border. President Trump has developed a consistent ploy when he’s criticized: say that someone else is worse. When Democrats point out, President Trump has completely bungled the coronavirus pandemic, Trump answers, “What about the way Obama-Biden mishandled the swine flu?” Conclusion: The Democrats screwed up the swine flu years ago, making their criticism of Trump’s handling of COVID-19 false. In another example, when former Vice President Biden questions why he is not condemning White supremacy, he flattens the seriousness of the issue accusing Mr. Biden of sparing no words on the leftist mob.

Another notorious public defense strategy Trump has at his disposal is his unprecedented levels of ‘personal attack’ against his targets. Many politicians fend them off from genuine criticism by directing the audience’s attention towards the opponent’s supposed personal character. Nevertheless, Trump elevated the character smearing tendency to a vicious level. The negative tag he puts on his opponent’s name, such as ‘crooked’ Hillary Clinton, ‘low energy’ Jeb Bush, and ‘little’ Marco Rubio is indicative of this distractive methodology. Instead of honestly responding to critics’ subject, he purposefully creates an outrage environment by raising a question on the opponent’s apolitical character. Reporter Meghan Kelly had famously pointed the finger at his problematic attitude towards women in the 2016 election debate. Still, by suggesting her bleeding from everywhere at the time of the interview, he was able to galvanize the base’s fury against her. He muddied the pond so much that the majority of people busied themselves, concentrating on the outrage he caused by his ‘bleeding’ language rather than his misogynistic attitude towards women.

In order to effectively push his case home, Trump tends to utilize one or juxtapose two or more narrative techniques in a single instance. And most of Trump’s conversations overlap and can be judged in the context of more than one narrative tool. As mentioned above, most of the narrative tactics are the outcomes of deep-rooted psychological instability that exist in the mind of Trump. When the media and his opponents poke into his internal instability, he acts against them, triggering these defense mechanisms with the sole purpose of distraction and rule. Most importantly, the tools are familiarized by dictators to spread propaganda and strengthen their authoritarian regime.

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