President Trump doesn’t talk like other politicians. We know this. But it’s not just his refusal to be politically correct that makes him unique. It is the words he uses.
On the campaign trial, Trump would use words to label his opponents that had never before been used in a political context. “Crooked”, “Little”, and “Lyin’” were all used to brand his opponents with nicknames that matched their physical appearance and/or persona.
Trump would also use words to describe his political counterparts that would usually be used in a much less formal setting. For example, during the campaign, he would often refer to someone as a “lightweight“. This word would especially resonate with male voters. Men often use the term lightweight to describe someone as being athletically challenged, or soft. When voters heard Trump say that so and so is a “lightweight”, they didn’t hear a politician, or even a billionaire businessman, they heard themselves.
But since capturing the Presidency, Trump has upped his word game to a whole new level. He famously said, to much mockery, that he “has the best words”. But it’s actually true. They aren’t necessarily big words, or words you would see an essayist use. But they are words that resonate deeply. I call them “sharp” words.
One example of Trumps using a sharp word was during his inaugural address. Instead of saying “Our nations middle class has seen their hard-earned tax dollars spent foolishly on failed projects all over the world”, Trump said “The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world.” Ripped. This means that it wasn’t just bad policy, it was an intentional, physical crime. The wealth was taken, purposefully, and swiftly. It wasn’t just taken from their bank accounts, but it was ripped from their homes. The government weren’t swindlers, they were burglars.
Another word he used in the inauguration was “carnage”, when describing the current social landscape of the country. It wasn’t just a few fatalities here and there, it wasn’t just a crisis, it was American carnage. It painted a picture in the minds of those listening, of mass killings and complete devastation in America’s inner cities.
The President doesn’t just use words that will move you, he uses words that will pierce you. They hit you hard, and they sometimes sting, but the message is always received.