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Demagogue for President

The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump

Jennifer R. Mercieca (author)

ISBN: 9781623499068

Publication Date: Jul 2020

Format: Hardback

Donald Trump's 2016 campaign speeches and other rhetoric seemed on the surface to be simplistic, repetitive, and disorganized to many. But as this book shows, his campaign strategy was anything but simple. Political communication expert Jennifer Mercieca shows how the Trump campaign expertly used the common rhetorical techniques of a demagogue.
£30.50

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Historic levels of polarization, a disaffected and frustrated electorate, and widespread distrust of government, the news media, and traditional political leadership set the stage in 2016 for an unexpected, unlikely, and unprecedented presidential contest. Donald Trump's campaign speeches and other rhetoric seemed on the surface to be simplistic, repetitive, and disorganized to many. As Demagogue for President shows, Trump's campaign strategy was anything but simple.

Political communication expert Jennifer Mercieca shows how the Trump campaign expertly used the common rhetorical techniques of a demagogue, a word with two contradictory definitions - 'a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power' or 'a leader championing the cause of the common people in ancient times' (Merriam-Webster, 2019). These strategies, in conjunction with post-rhetorical public relations techniques, were meant to appeal to a segment of an already distrustful electorate. It was an effective tactic.

Mercieca analyzes rhetorical strategies such as argument ad hominem, argument ad baculum, argument ad populum, reification, paralipsis, and more to reveal a campaign that was morally repugnant to some but to others a brilliant appeal to American exceptionalism. By all accounts, it fundamentally changed the discourse of the American public sphere.

Reviews

"The question of how Donald Trump ever got elected president has stumped some of the nation's deeper thinkers. Jennifer Mercieca has a compelling answer in Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump. […]

This book shows us by dissecting his demagogic language with a particularly precise scalpel. In doing so, it deserves a place alongside George Orwell's
Politics and the English Language and Harry G. Frankfurt's On Bulls---. It's a brilliant dissertation on Trump's patented brand of balderdash. That makes it one of the most important political books of this perilous summer. […]

She explains Trump's demagoguery – no easy matter – by analyzing it through the classic principles of rhetoric. This could be tedious in the wrong hands, but she makes it exhilarating, methodically revealing the insidious crowd-controlling methods of an autocrat. […]

This book can serve as a vaccine against a virus that threatens the survival of our democracy. Lord knows we need it."
- The Washington Post

Pages 320
Dimensions 229 x 152
Date Published 30 Jul 2020
Publisher Texas A&M University Press
Subject/s Regional & national history   Public speaking guides   Political structure & processes   Constitution: government & the state   Elections & referenda   Discourse analysis  
Jennifer Mercieca is associate professor in the Department of Communication at Texas A&M University. She is the author of Founding Fictions and coeditor of The Rhetoric of Heroic Expectations: Establishing the Obama Presidency. She frequently appears as an expert commentator and consultant for national and international media outlets.

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