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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

CADY: Political rhetoric, powerful weapon

Trump gives speech at a rally in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo via Flickr

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can break a nation. 

The United States is no stranger to political chaos – it’s hardly ever been without it. In modern times we can look to the Watergate Scandal, the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky affair and most recently Trump’s “Big Lie” which claimed that he won the 2020 Presidential Election. What all of these cases most notably have in common are corruption and duplicity, but the more subtle smoking gun here is the rhetoric surrounding them. 

When it comes to political scandals, affairs and afflictions there is one common hail mary: the attempt to save face. 

As American citizens, we are accustomed to hearing the desperate attempts to cover up missteps – the cries for help from politicians as they watch their aspirations sink into a black hole right down with their reputations. Undoubtedly we have all heard Clinton’s pleading statement: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” That was before the truth came to light. But, the true danger begins when dishonesty persists. 

To give him a shred of credit, Trump was smart. He was smart to lay the groundwork for his relentless fan base to believe that he could only lose the 2020 presidential election by means of fraud. 

Aug. 2020 Trump told an audience in Oshkosh, Wisconsin that the only way he could lose to opponent Joe Biden was if there was fraud involved in the election. “Make sure (to vote) because the only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election was rigged,” said the former president. “Remember that. It’s the only way we’re going to lose this election, so we have to be very careful.” 

After he ultimately lost the election, the grim reality for our country set in. 

Trump made relentless statements about how this election was stolen from him and pushed the conspiracy that he was robbed of the second-term of his presidency and that boiled over into what we all know as the Jan. 6 insurrection. Where avid supporters of Trump stormed the Washington, D.C. capitol building in hopes of protesting the certified election results. 

There was so much harm done to our democracy in those days.

The days when a former president, who in all optimism should uphold our democracy and honor the peaceful transfer of power, encouraged his cult-like fandom to “fight like hell” for their country – convincing them further of his “Big Lie.” 

Political rhetoric is a powerful weapon.

Trump was well aware of the weight that his words carried with his supporters. After all, the man has been compared to Adolf Hitler. We are not dealing with a genocidal regime in America, we are not enduring the ghastly acts that occurred during the Holocaust, but we have given far too much power to a man who knows how to create and control undivided loyalties. And says some extremely harmful things while doing it. 

Even now, Trump persists in putting his own spin on things. Within his recent classified documents scandal, Trump continues to deny any responsibility while vilifying the FBI and other parties looking into the case. 

If Donald Trump is the puppeteer, his rhetoric serves as his strings. 

Trump has figured out how to control a significant portion of the nation on the basis of a “trust me” mentality. If Trump says that he lost the election, his supporters believe he lost the election. If Trump says that he is coming back as President, his supporters believe he is coming back as President. If Trump says that he hates somebody, his supporters hate them as well. 

There is also something to be said about the way that Trump has empowered people to say disgusting, ignorant and offensive things in the name of “being authentic.” 

Saying narrow-minded and awful things about women, claiming that he “likes people who weren’t captured” in reference to war hero John McCain and making derogatory remarks about journalist Megyn Kelly after she questioned him during a debate. Trump has left a legacy of evading responsibility for saying revolting things. 

If there is any lasting impression Trump has made on our country, it is the tolerance for dishonesty, the praise of ignorance and the empowerment to be hateful. 

This story was written by Grace Cady. She can be reached [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Grace Cady
Grace Cady, Managing Editor of the Marquette Journal
Grace Cady is a senior at Marquette University from Delafield, Wisconsin. She is majoring in journalism and political science. This year she will be the managing editor of the Journal. Outside of the Wire, Grace likes to read, write creatively, watch movies and spend time with friends & family. Prior to this year, she served as the executive opinions editor at the Wire and has held intern positions at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee Magazine and the National Federation of Federal Employees in Washington, D.C. Additionally, Grace is part of the O'Brien Investigative Fellowship program this year alongside Julia Abuzzahab.

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