Trump Speak 101

By | 2017-06-02T18:30:05+00:00 August 22, 2016|
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800px-Mr_Donald_Trump_New_Hampshire_Town_Hall_on_August_19th_2015_at_Pinkerton_Academy_in_Derry_NH_by_Michael_Vadon_06American Greatness Managing Editor, Ben Boychuk, writes a column in the Sacramento Bee exploring the many supposed “gaffes” of the Trump campaign and begins to note in them a pattern. That is to say, Trump predictably elicits outrage from the usual quarters when he speaks. This outrage leads the news cycle. People argue, at first, about whether or not Trump ought to have said what he said and then over whether he ought to have said it in the way that he said it. But in the end, they usually get around to debating the substance of the thing he said and that thing, it turns out, is usually something about which people have long since ceased to think about in an original way. The effect is that they end up having to consider the fundamentals of the point he raises in a different way than they had been accustomed to consider it, no matter if their purpose is to condemn or to defend him. Love him or hate him, he’s forcing people to get out of their comfortable intellectual boxes and-dare I say it?-think for themselves.

Take, for example, two (possibly related) cases in point:  Trump’s controversial comments about  “Second Amendment people” and his alleged comments about the use of nuclear weapons. People argued he was trying to incite violence in the first case and that he was an intemperate madman in the second. But in both cases, people ended up having to rethink the fundamental question of purposes. That is to say: Why do we have a Second Amendment? What important public good is served by respecting an armed citizenry? And why does the United States have nuclear weapons? What purpose do we facilitate by maintaining a nuclear arsenal?

Boychuk notes that:

In the United States, with the exception of an unpleasant period between 1861 and 1865, we settle our political differences with ballots, not bullets. But the Second Amendment is a lot like the nuclear deterrent the Republican national security establishment worries that Trump doesn’t understand . . . Trump understands deterrence very well.

Deterrence. That’s it in a nutshell. We have a Second Amendment because, as a sovereign people, we reserve unto ourselves the right to stop tyranny. We are, after all, a nation founded in Revolution. We set things up so that we might always prevent tyranny with ballots because we understood that perpetual and persistent revolution (aka, direct democracy) is just another road to tyranny. So we put a lot of restraints on our ability to exercise that right of revolution. We made democracy representative and difficult and republican. We did not trust our own judgment so much that we thought it should be heeded in every question before the public. We established mechanisms to facilitate reflection before choice. But we weren’t suicidal in ceding so much of our decision-making powers to elected officials. We retained the franchise and sanctified certain rights in our Bill of Rights so as to keep them beyond the powers of the legislature to regulate away. Gun ownership, especially, is an ace in the hole. We maintained the right to arm ourselves not, as one wag noted, because we had an inordinate fear of deer but because we have a healthy fear of government and its tendency to abrogate power unto itself. Ballots, yes. But deterrence requires that government officials are not the only ones with bullets.

Similarly, we don’t keep nuclear weapons just to provide nuclear scientists with a jobs program.

Of course, Donald Trump might have said, “We need to have a national conversation about deterrence.” Everyone is laughing at this point in the reading here, right?  Because much to the consternation of politicos right, left, and everywhere, Trump does not and, seemingly, will not talk that way. But is his way the wrong way?  Scott Adams, the famous cartoonist and creator of Dilbert, doesn’t think so.  He sees a kind of sly genius in the way Trump upends the chessboard. Adams suggests that Trump is appealing to the irrational part of men’s souls because he understands that people don’t make political decisions based solely (actually, he would say “at all”) on the reason.

I don’t agree with Adams when he suggests that the irrational part of the soul is the only thing worth engaging.  But I do think he is on to something in noticing how it may help him win.  Trump can reach people by appealing to them in ways other Republican politicians have scorned for at least a generation.  It is true that at first he can be an irritant and a source of upheaval or outrage.  But Trump’s long game may be that in shaking up things on an emotional level, what’s actually happening is a loosening up of the staid and settled (and also irrational) consensus surrounding too many issues of public policy.  If that kind of disturbance can get people to question and think about first principles again (such as “what is the purpose of the Second Amendment or a nuclear arsenal?”) then in what sense is this method rightly called “irrational”?  Might it not be, in fact, the beginning of an awakened political wisdom in the American people?  Might it not be an attempt to reach for a higher form of consent, even, than mere electoral victory?

About the Author:

Julie Ponzi
Julie Ponzi is Senior Editor of American Greatness. She holds an M.A. in political philosophy and American politics from the Claremont Graduate University. She was an Earhart Fellow and a Bradley Foundation Fellow while studying at Claremont and also earned a Publius Fellowship from The Claremont Institute. Formerly the Director of Academic Programs at the Claremont Institute, she also taught American politics at Azusa Pacific University. Her writing has appeared in the Claremont Review of Books, The Online Library of Law and Liberty, The Columbus Dispatch, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and The Washington Times. She was also a regular and long-time contributor to the Ashbrook Center's blog, No Left Turns. She lives in California. You can follow her on Twitter at @JuliePonzi
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  • Chuck Burton

    Ponzi attributes forethoughtor stragegic thinking to Trump’s verbal diarrhea. That is silly and unlikely. Generally he just opens his mouth and out it spills.

    • Crazy_Librul_Inspector

      I bet she can space properly and spell “strategic,” though.

      • Dillon Fortier

        Yeah probably. But we can buy and use spellcheckers; she cannot grow a brain.

      • Chuck Burton

        Hard to type on an iPad on the beach. It jumps around. But I agree that we should all proofread our posts. I usually do, but clearly not this time.

    • getitright

      See, she almost got you thinking there, about the best that can be done in your case apparently,proves her point exactly.

  • Historybuff

    And ‘might’ sleazy trump just be a narcissistic personality that ran the crowd adulation game as long as he could?
    HB

    • Dillon Fortier

      Exactly. Trump speaks but knows nothing.

      • 1coolguy

        This is EXACTLY why I am VOTING FOR Trump – he is a change agent. He is a disrupter and WN DC is long overdue for someone to come in and upset the apple cart, which I know Trump will do.
        Clinton is just more of the same crooked WN DC and nothing will change – just more of the same out of touch governing.
        Wall Street has contributed $48,500,000 to Clinton, and only $19,500 to Trump: Why? Because they are afraid of change and they have Clinton in their pocket., Wall Street OWNS Hillary and all her corrupt friends.
        The thought of more of the same is horrible – an example is the disaster that we now know is Obamacare. Hillary will just make another federal program as a solution. She has no idea how to create jobs in the private sector. She has been on the government payroll for over 30 years, while Trump has always signed the FRONT of paychecks for tens of thousands of employees,
        Vote TRUMP – He will turn DC upside down and drive the lobbyists out of business.

    • JamesDrouin

      US National Debt in January, 2009: ~$10,626,877,048,913
      US National Debt today: ~$19,400,000,000,000

      Debt per American Taxpayer in January, 2009: ~$34,500
      Debt per American Taxpayer today: ~$60,700

      Americans Living in Poverty in January, 2009: 43,000,000
      Americans Living in Poverty today: 49,000,000

      Americans on Food Stamps in January, 2009: 30,000,000
      Americans on Food Stamps today: 49,000,000

      American Homeownership Rate in January, 2009: 67.5%
      American Homeownership Rate today: 62.9%

      American Labor Force Participation Rate in January, 2009: 65.7%
      American Labor Force Participation Rate today: 62.7%

      • Historybuff

        I agree – obama has been a complete disaster for America… The level of sleaze, corruption, and incompetence he has introduced to America threatens our future like nothing else since Japan-Germany.

        The question is, do we want to keep on with accepting sleaze & corruption… or is it time to reject it?
        HB

  • ThatOneGuyOverThere

    In all seriousness, this is not what he is doing. He is saying shocking things to get publicity without any thought to their long term implications. He has always done this. It worked great when he was a reality TV star or a tabloid figure in New York, because there were no long term implications for his words beyond himself.

    Now his words can impact the lives of billions. It is no longer funny, or productive, but he kept doing it until it was obviously causing him major problems. This is not genius at work, quietly undermining the subtle falsehoods that shape our political discourse. This is a posturing ass stating repeatedly that the US military should be ordered to gun down women and children because they have a relative who is a terrorist.

    Or that NATO allies should be abandoned to live under a Russian boot unless they ‘met their obligations’ as defined by Trump.

    Or that a Muslim husband forced his wife into silence about her dead son, who died trying to save his fellow Soldiers.

    Or many other statements. One or two I could write off as debate sparking brilliance. However, were that the case, he would have confined himself to a few insightful comments on specific topics rather than run his mouth about everything ever. The dozens of remarks combined point to an ignorant fool saying whatever pops into his head so long as it has shock value. Useful on TV, less so in trying to hold the liberal western order together in a rapidly changing world.

    • Aussie Reader

      I’m glad you’re willing to fight to preserve the social welfare programs that the US cannot afford. I urge you to join a European military force. I’m not. I’ve already been shot by a Kalashnikov. Perhaps America’s working class scum are tired of paying for your indulgent assumption of military obligations. To Hell with Europe. If they can’t or won’t defend themselves, why ought the US assume the burden?

    • Racinrick

      “less so in trying to hold the liberal western order together in a rapidly changing world”, the operative word here is LIBERAL. Glad you nailed it. Ironically, most of us are damned sick of it, time for a little common sense in which Trump has in abundance.

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  • Dillon Fortier

    So Trump’s shoot-from-the-lip style is good for America? Why not teach a chimp to utter random English phrases connected with issues and policy? No, Trump’s ignorant and outrageous statements are doing one thing: energizing the know-nots seeking simple solutions to complex problems, and giving them false hope that Trump can somehow solve them. He has split the GOP into 2 cliques: dumb and smart.

    • Vols939

      W ?

      • Historybuff

        The Bush that trump is now adopting his immigration policy from?
        HB

        • Vols939

          Trump was ALWAYS going to give work visas to productive migrants. But W did pass the wall legislation so Trump only has to finish the job. Double fencing with drone monitoring sound be sufficient.

          Remember McCain?

    • PrimoFederalist

      “energizing the know-nots seeking simple solutions to complex problems, and giving them false hope that [he] can somehow solve them.”

      Much like the Barrack Obama model of problem solving: if you vote for me all of your wildest dreams will come true. Note: Obama was elected twice.

    • getitright

      So true, and happily the old guard dumb GOPe will soon be a thing of the past.

      • JamesDrouin

        The America-hating B. Hussein Obama on October 2, 2014:

        “I’m not on the ballot this fall. Michelle’s pretty happy about that,” Obama said. “But make no mistake: These policies are on the ballot, every single one of them.”

        2014 Mid-Terms:

        Democrats LOSE 11 House seats;
        Republicans GAIN 13 House seats and extend control of the House;

        Democrats LOSE 9 Senate seats;
        Republicans GAIN 9 Senate seats and control of the Senate;

        Democrats LOSE 3 Governorships;
        Republicans GAIN 2 Governorships and extend control to 67 of 99 State Legislative bodies.

    • 1coolguy

      Typical, shallow Dem attack.

  • Donovan

    What a novel interpretation of the 2nd amendment. I thought it was patently obvious that the reason for the 2nd amendment was for rapid response to British military invasion, which is why it states in no uncertain terms in 18th century English “the right of communities to store weapons and take up arms won’t be abridged due to the importance well ordered paramilitary organizations can play in the defense of the country.”

    I mean, that’s a direct translation from 18th century English. I guess “so we can kill our government” is implied?

    The 2nd amendment became obsolete with the creation of a large standing American army for the war of 1812. It doesn’t need exist anymore.

    • Racinrick

      Yea well, that’s what they thought in Germany and Russia prior to WWII. Defenseless populations didn’t work out so well did it? As an astute student of 18th century English, surely by now you would have come to the conclusion that the Founding Fathers really were some very bright and scholared individuals, and in group form they surpassed your thought processes three centuries before your conception. They knew about your ilk long before your small mind thought it was making a splash.

    • Eric Johnson

      We had no large standing Army for the War of 1812. All major land battles were made with State Militia compromising at least half of American land forces.

  • 1coolguy

    This is EXACTLY why I am VOTING FOR Trump – he is a change agent. He is a disrupter and WN DC is long overdue for someone to come in and upset the apple cart, which I know Trump will do.
    Clinton is just more of the same crooked WN DC and nothing will change – just more of the same out of touch governing.
    Wall Street has contributed $48,500,000 to Clinton, and only $19,500 to Trump: Why? Because they are afraid of change and they have Clinton in their pocket., Wall Street OWNS Hillary and all her corrupt friends.
    The thought of more of the same is horrible – an example is the disaster that we now know is Obamacare. Hillary will just make another federal program as a solution. She has no idea how to create jobs in the private sector. She has been on the government payroll for over 30 years, while Trump has always signed the FRONT of paychecks for tens of thousands of employees,
    Vote TRUMP – He will turn DC upside down and drive the lobbyists out of business.

  • Volatility_Smile

    I’m looking forward to November 9th when Trump can go back to being a con man shyster defendant in multiple lawsuits.

    • JustData

      Not this November probably.

  • Joel A. Edge

    Trump is a brick through the plate glass window of a corrupt and isolated two-party system. A good thing.

  • bloopville

    Another “Trump is a master chess player, 9 moves ahead of the rest of us” article. This might be a valid observation if Trump wasn’t just repeating what you can hear every Thanksgiving from weird, drunken Uncle Nort.

  • sabbath7

    This has to be one of the most ignorant and vile columns I’ve ever read. Lies and distortions. Ugliness. What low scum rationalize threatening with force of arms Presidents and Supreme Court Justices who were elected by a majority of the American people? No this is treason. Low scum.

    • JamesDrouin

      Under the America-hating B. Hussein Obama, despite the fawning backing of the sold-its-soul-to-the-left lamestream media, the self induced intellectually retarded left wing liberal Democrats have LOST A NET OF:

      – 13 Senate seats;
      – 69 House seats;
      – 11 Governorships;
      – 913 State legislative seats;
      – 30 State legislatures, and;
      – Only God knows how many Mayoral and City Council seats.

    • JustData

      None of the USSC justices are elected.
      Obama wasn’t elected by a majority of the American people either; he was elected by a majority of those who turned out to vote in 2012 plus however many fraudulent votes Dems turned out in addition to their typical rigging.

      Please come back out on Election Night because I want to see what your comments look like when your head is exploding.

  • JamesDrouin

    Policy differences between The Make America Great Again Donald and Lying Crooked Hillary:

    Border Wall:
    The Make America Great Again Donald: There will be one, and Mexico will pay for it.
    Lying Crooked Hillary: See sections on importing Muslim terrorists, diseased illegal aliens, gay- and lesbian-hating psychopaths, and those who have or promise to contribute to the Clinton ‘Foundation’.

    Corruption by politicians:
    The Make America Great Again Donald: See section on crime.
    Lying Crooked Hillary: As much as possible, especially those who have or promise to contribute to the Clinton ‘Foundation’.

    Crime:
    The Make America Great Again Donald: Criminals go to prison.
    Lying Crooked Hillary: There are no criminals and people just have to live and die with that.

    Energy development:
    The Make America Great Again Donald: All forms with due care to the environment.
    Lying Crooked Hillary: No energy development, except for those who have or promise to contribute to the Clinton ‘Foundation’.

    Foreign policy:
    The Make America Great Again Donald: American interests first.
    Lying Crooked Hillary: No dictator or war is too great to take on but a sizeable contribution to the Clinton ‘Foundation’ will be required.

    Government spending:
    The Make America Great Again Donald: Eliminate any and all waste, balance the federal budget.
    Lying Crooked Hillary: Increasing, especially programs that have or promise to contribute to the Clinton ‘Foundation’.

    Health care:
    The Make America Great Again Donald: Individual based.
    Lying Crooked Hillary: Transform ObamaDeathCare into GovernmentDeathCare.

    Importing Muslim terrorists and diseased illegal aliens:
    The Make America Great Again Donald: None.
    Lying Crooked Hillary: As many as possible, especially those who have or promise to contribute to the Clinton ‘Foundation’.

    Importing gay- and lesbian-hating psychopaths:
    The Make America Great Again Donald: None.
    Lying Crooked Hillary: As many as possible, especially those who have or promise to contribute to the Clinton ‘Foundation’.

    Jobs:
    The Make America Great Again Donald: Create a vibrant economic climate.
    Lying Crooked Hillary: See sections on importing gay- and lesbian-hating Muslim terrorists and diseased illegal aliens and increasing taxes.

    Policing:
    The Make America Great Again Donald: Equal and strong protection for everyone.
    Lying Crooked Hillary: Fcvk ‘em, police are racist thugs who routinely violate the rights of innocent people and prey on imported gay- and lesbian-hating Muslim terrorists and diseased illegal aliens.

    Sale of American mineral deposits to foreign dictators:
    The Make America Great Again Donald: None.
    Lying Crooked Hillary: Yes, but a sizeable contribution to Clinton ‘Foundation’ is required.

    Second Amendment:
    The Make America Great Again Donald: Firearms for all non-felon citizens.
    Lying Crooked Hillary: Firearms only for politicians’ bodyguards, imported gay- and lesbian-hating Muslim terrorists and diseased illegal aliens, and those who have or promise to contribute to the Clinton ‘Foundation’.

    Taxes:
    The Make America Great Again Donald: Tax cuts for everyone.
    Lying Crooked Hillary: Tax increases for everyone, including the dead, except for those who have or promise to contribute to the Clinton ‘Foundation’.

    Trade:
    The Make America Great Again Donald: Fair trade for Americans.
    Lying Crooked Hillary: Trade under any circumstances for everyone who has or promises to contribute to the Clinton ‘Foundation’.

    Veteran affairs:
    The Make America Great Again Donald: No care is too good for those who volunteered and risked their lives for their country.
    Lying Crooked Hillary: Fcvk’em, veterans can wait until the imported gay- and lesbian-hating Muslim terrorists and diseased illegal aliens have been taken care of.

    Voting:
    The Make America Great Again Donald: Only for American citizens registered and qualified to vote.
    Lying Crooked Hillary: Voting for everyone, including the dead, imported gay- and lesbian-hating Muslim terrorists and diseased illegal aliens, and whoever has or promises to contribute to the Clinton ‘Foundation’.

  • Kuni Leml

    So how is that surface to air anti-drone missile system of yours when it comes to deterrence working out?

    The last time anyone checked “arms” did not mean “guns.” Your first hint should have been the privateers armed with cannons at the time the Constitution was written and the fact that private cannon, the nukes of their time, ownership was allowed.

  • davemarney

    Trump is the only person in public politics who doesn’t talk like a politician. Everyone else — even Pence, Trump’s running mate — talks like a politician: use many words, say nothing of substance, confirm the target audience’s biases, and say, “God bless America” at the end.

    Trump talks like what he is, a New York wannabe big shot who thinks he’s a player. He is confident and bold. He says obvious things that no politician would ever say, like a taxi driver, or someone sitting on a bar stool talking about how crummy things are today.

  • Stephan Marcus

    “But deterrence requires that government officials are not the only ones with bullets.”

    Irony. The hardware you would need to stand any chance of defeating the smallest portion of the military, tanks, gunships, drones and the like, are precisely the kind of weapons even the strongest proponents of the Second Amendment would prefer their neighbours not to own. If you really think that any number of good ol’ boys with AR-15s and Molotov cocktails are going to overthrow the government you’ve been smoking your socks. Don’t believe me, ask Hamas, the Tamil Tigers and the Free Syrian Army what happens when you take on a modern army with small arms.

    The only defence against tyranny that has ever worked is democracy, but for reasons that remain inexplicable the groups who proclaim their love of liberty the loudest are the ones who seems most committed to undermine the very concept of consensual government.

    • JustData

      You make the strange and unsupported assumption that the military would side with the corrupt LibDems tying their hands with stupid restrictions on the Use of Force protocols which get their brothers in arms wounded/killed.

      You make a similarly bizarre assumption that the police would side with the folks who support, enable, urge on, and directly fund the “Pigs in a blanket, fry em like bacon” and “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want em? NOW! crowd.

      I suspect that much/most of the military and many if not most of the cops won’t side with corrupt, globalist, anti-American, anti-military, anti-police Dems as much as you think.