The United States and the world have now spent two years trying to figure out how to deal with an anti-social president. The task holds even more import over the next two years as Democrats and Never Trump Republicans consider how to challenge an incumbent president in 2020. Formulating an effective strategy should start by recognizing the ways Trumpian discourse adheres to prototypical “trolling” behavior and responding accordingly.
Trump’s immigration metaphors set a divisive tone from the top. His immigration metaphors do not constitute “plain speaking,” “strong language,” or “passionate debate,” nor can they be innocently excused as his “own style.” His language is textbook demagoguery, and his immigration metaphors help constitute our current sociopolitical moment.
Words take center stage in the verbal sparring of the Twitter age. But, amidst the endless talk and noise of today’s political landscape, we often overlook the powerful communicative potential of silence.
To defend his policy of separating immigrant children from their parents, Trump uttered several bald-faced lies to deflect responsibility for the humanitarian crisis he created. Although the lies he and administration officials repeated seemed to represent a new nadir even for this presidency, the constant flow of misinformation from this White House has vexed political journalists from day one. How do you cover a president who frequently utters false claims without giving credence to the misinformation?
Collins Dictionary named fake news its 2017 word of the year, an easy choice given the word’s “unprecedented usage increase” of 365 percent over the previous year. Collins defines fake news as “false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news.” But this dictionary definition belies the shifting usage of the word in actual contexts of situation since the 2016 election.
Remember when everyone feared the “normalization” of a Trump presidency? Well, it’s gotten to the point where the US president can now openly brag about lying to the Canadian prime minister, and his bald-faced maneuvers to discredit the Robert Mueller investigation and FBI have been openly joined by House Republicans under the deceptive moniker of “oversight.”