I followed the 2016 election avidly, I watched every debate in the primaries and the general election, I watched dozens of Trump rallies and Hillary rallies, both the DNC and the RNC, etc. I predicted at that time - to the vehement disagreement of virtually everyone I know - that Trump would win, and I was proven right, although I don’t go around rubbing it in peoples’ faces because it wasn’t the result I wanted, even though I felt it was inevitable.
I’ve long thought that Trump’s style of speaking was a critical component of how he was able to win, but yesterday after hearing him on the radio (there was a live broadcast of a speech about vocational schools, which I cannot find now, on POTUS, the channel on Sirius XM) I made up my mind that it was in fact his speaking style more than his policies that contributed to his victory.
What I’m about to say is essentially apolitical. It transcends ideological allegiances.
Speech is, for all but the hearing-impaired, the primary way that humans relate to each other. It is the primary method for transmitting concepts, more so even than the written word, since there are vast numbers of people who are unable to read but are able to speak in a reasonably articulate way. It’s even the most critical component of the shows, movies, and other media that we take in which people think of as ‘visual’ but is really more auditory. After all, you can listen to a movie or a show with the picture turned off and, in the vast majority of instances, be able to discern what is going on with a reasonable degree of accuracy. The reverse is not remotely true.
To put it very simply, Donald Trump speaks - to huge crowds of people - the way most of us speak in casual conversation with our friends. I’m not talking about what he says, I’m talking about how he says it. He is arguably the first president in American history to speak predominantly in a colloquial and conversational tone.
Is he articulate? No. He repeats himself a lot, his diction is sloppy and almost sounds somewhat like he’s drunk even though he supposedly does not drink, and he goes off on rambling stream-of-consciousness tangents. But he still speaks as if he is part of a casual conversation, and I think this makes all the difference.
The American public had never experienced a candidate like this before. Previously, all politicians sounded like politicians. They spoke in a polished manner, and their objective was to sound like an authority on whatever it was that they were discussing.
It’s my hypothesis here that Trump’s casual and colloquial style of speech struck a major emotional chord with people in a way that nobody else had done. He connected with people, he made them feel like they were being talked to and not at. The stream-of-consciousness rambling tangents were an asset, not a liability - that is the way most people’s internal monologue sounds. Trump doesn’t have an internal monologue, he just has a monologue full stop. And it’s always running.
Obviously he does not appeal to a lot of people, because of what he stands for, and so those people didn’t vote for him. But for those who even vaguely share his politics, that emotional connection is what knocked Bush, Cruz, Rubio, Kasich, and all the rest of them, down like so many bowling pins.
By the way, Bernie Sanders had many of the same characteristics. And I know tons of people who adored and continued to adore Sanders without really understanding what his politics are - they like him because he “seems like a good guy.”
Does this mean that there are a hell of a lot of uninformed people out there who are voting on their intuitive brain rather than their rational one? YES IT DOES!
You know when that situation is going to be rectified? The answer is, whenever someone figures out a way to genetically engineer the human brain to be, in the main, a different piece of equipment than what it currently is and has always been. Because the fact is, human beings, collectively, operate more on emotion than logic.
I am not sure what is going to happen in the next three or seven years, politics-wise. One thing I am certain of, though, is that we are going to see a lot more politicians, of all stripes, who speak the way that Trump does.