Blog

  • Emotion and effectiveness in the discourse of Donald Trump

    In the last post, we focused our attention on the power of emotional discourse. As we noted, a significant element of Donald Trump’s astonishing electoral victory was his ability to move people to action by appealing to their hearts, far more than to their heads. Immediately after the November election, when the pollsters, pundits and newscasters were expressing utter disbelief

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  • Emotion trumps fact and reason

    In a post dated March 24, I listed some of the items I reflected on as I watched CNN’s interviews with Trump’s “crossover” voters from the heartland of America. Among them was that large numbers of these voters seem to have chosen more for emotional than for rational reasons. Who exactly are the crossover voters that CNN has been showing

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  • “Nobody predicted this”: How Donald Trump’s narrative persuaded Middle America

    Our last post closed with a cursory discussion of Donald Trump’s use of personal narrative during his successful campaign for the presidency of the United States. While I stated that I consider his discourse a relatively superficial effort at leading by autobiography, we are now seeing evidence that his stories of identity had a significant influence with some key elements

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  • Even a superficial personal narrative can be compelling: Part Two

    Continuing on our theme from last time, it should be clear to anyone reading this that I have lamented the dearth of personal storytelling in the last US presidential election. As I have long been convinced that stories of identity are a leader’s most persuasive form of self-expression, I was surprised to see it employed so infrequently. Though I have

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  • Even a superficial personal narrative can be compelling: Part One

    In the past weeks and months, I have put forth on several occasions my opinion that neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump had used personal stories of identity particularly well. By this assertion, I mean their discourse was far from the standard I would set when I speak of truly “leading by autobiography”.  One of the concepts at the center

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  • In search of the power behind Trump’s superficial narrative: Part Two

    As I wrote in the previous post, for the past few weeks I have been following a series of CNN’s journeys into the American heartland, visits where newspeople interview voters who had unexpectedly supported Donald Trump in the last election. The reporters are seeking to figure out why so many people in traditional democratic strongholds, and from families who had always voted

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