The New York Times published its findings from a wide-scale analysis of Donald Trump’s rhetoric, showing a Republican frontrunner who’s catapulted to a commanding lead by “borrowing from some demagogues of the past century.”
Patrick Healy and Maggie Haberman tracked 95,000 words uttered by Trump over one week, coming from speeches, rallies and interviews.
What they found was a pattern of Trump using “potent language to connect with, and often stoke, the fears and grievances of Americans.”
The key takeaway was that the real estate mogul leverages the use of divisive phrases and harsh words while putting forth violent imagery.
“He has a particular habit of saying ‘you’ and ‘we’ as he inveighs against a dangerous ‘them’ or unnamed other — usually outsiders like illegal immigrants (‘they’re pouring in’), Syrian migrants (‘young, strong men’) and Mexicans, but also leaders of both political parties,” the story read.
Through these words and phrases, Trump has seized on people’s anxieties over a changing country, the Times wrote, along with “economic insecurities, ferocious enemies and emboldened minorities.”
One of these enemies is the first black president, Barack Obama, whose heritage and intelligence Trump has “all but encouraged supporters to malign.”
” ‘We vs. them’ creates a threatening dynamic, where ‘they’ are evil or crazy or ignorant and ‘we’ need a candidate who sees the threat and can alleviate it,” said Matt Motyl, a political psychologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago who is studying how the 2016 presidential candidates speak. “He appeals to the masses and makes them feel powerful again: ‘We’ need to build a wall on the Mexican border — not ‘I,’ but ‘we.’ “
Another pattern the Times observed was Trump’s penchant for attacking people rather than ideas or policies — something TheWrap has chronicled for months.
The paper counted up the amount of times the candidate has used negative words in a week. “Stupid” won out with 30, followed by “horrible” (14), “weak” (13) and other terms.
“Can anybody be that dumb?” Trump said on Friday about people who might have known something about the San Bernardino shooters but didn’t contact authorities.
“We have become so politically correct that we don’t know what the hell we’re doing. We don’t know what we’re doing.”
The paper also spotlighted Trump’s use of violence, with words like “kill, destroy and fight.”
Trump didn’t respond to the paper’s attempt to interview him for the story, but if months of his crusading against media outlets tells us anything, he won’t stay silent for long.