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But isn’t it un-American and wrong to discriminate against people based on their religion?
But, Jimmy, the problem
Uh, I mean, look, I’m for it…
We have people coming into our country
that are looking to do tremendous harm.
You look at the two-
Look at what happened in Paris.
I mean, these people, they did not come from Sweden
Look at what happened in Paris.
Look at what happened last week in California,
with…with, you know, fourteen people dead.
Other people going to die,
they’re so badly injured.
We have a real problem.
There’s a tremendous hatred out there.
And what I wanna do is find out what-
you know, you can’t solve a problem
until you find out what’s the root cause.
And I wanna find out what is the problem
I’ve had so many people call me and say thank you.
Now, if you remember, when I did that a week ago
and you watch last night
and you see people talking.
They say, “Well, Trump has a point.
We have to get down to the problem.”
The people that are friends of mine that called,
“Donald, you’ve done us a tremendous service,
because we do have a problem
and we have to find out what is the —
-and we have to find out what is the–
-those might have been prank calls
-those may have been prank calls
One of the things I find fascinating about Donald Trump
is the way he uses language
differently than other candidates for political office,
especially president of the United States
Whereas his opponents and the political class in general seem hyper-aware that
their words would be picked apart and used against them
Trump willfully disregards this fact.
As a lifelong salesman, he has a huckster’s knack for selling a feeling
even if the ideas and facts that underscore it are spurious, racist or just plain incomprehensible
so I thought it would be illuminating to look at a Trump answer to a simple question
In this case Jimmy Kimmel asking Trump whether or not it’s wrong to discriminate against people based on their religion
referring to Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the United States
This 220 word, exactly 1 minute answer displays
I think, a range of the things that Trump uses all the time in his speech
The first thing to know is how simple this language is
Of the 220 words, 172, or 78%, are only one syllable
and often they come in a rhythmic series like a volley of jabs ending with one of his buzz words
we have to get down to the problem
39 words, or 17%, are two syllables long
only 4 words have 3 syllables, 3 of which are the word tremendous, tremendous, tremendous
and just two words are 4 syllables long
California, which he’s forced to use because it has less syllables than San Bernardino
and temporary, which he swallows
and it’s temporary, I’ve had so many people
this breakdown fits with the study done by the Boston Globe
that put all 2016 presidential candidates’ announcement speeches
through the Flesch-Kincaid readability test to determine their respective grade level rankings
Donald Trump’s speech came out at the 4th grade reading level
Now for reference, Ben Carson came out at 6th grade
Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush were speaking at an 8th grade reading level
and Bernie Sanders was a way up in high school, a sophomore, to be exact
Now this isn’t only down to word or syllable choice
it’s about sentence construction, too
Trump favors simple sentences like
we have a real problem
there is a tremendous hatred out there
Rarely does he use complex sentences or independent clauses
He also favors the second person a lot of the time, addressing listeners directly with commands
Look at Paris
Look at what happened in Paris
Look at what happened in Paris
Look at what happened last week in California
Or implicating us in what he’s saying as if we’ve already agreed
and you watch last night, and you see people talking
He’s really good at this, at framing negative response as an over-reaction that was subsequently realized as such
if you remember, when I did that a week ago it was like bedlam.
All of a sudden – and you watch last, and you see people talking.
They said, “Well Trump has a point. We have to get down to the problem.”
Maybe the most important technique Trump utilizes and he does this more than anyone I’ve ever heard
is ending his sentences with strong punchy words.
A lot of times he’ll rearrange the beginning of a sentence awkwardly, so that he can end strong.
For example, here, it would probably be more natural to say
you can’t solve a problem until you find out what the root cause is
but he brings the is forward to end on root cause
he does the same here
and it looks like he was going to about the same in the end before Kimmel cuts him off
these final words are crucial for Trump
They’re pointed and taken together sketch the theme of the entire answer
harm, dead, die, badly injured, problem, root cause
thank you, bedlam, point, problem, service, problem
In some sense, it’s these words that audiences remember
especially when the rest of the speech is incoherent
Like the best salesman, Trump keeps it simple, he repeats a lot
we have a real problem, what is the problem
we do have a problem, we have to get down to the problem
and he uses his favorite words over and over
tremendous, tremendous, tremendous service
and he always seems to have friends who are part of the group that he’s currently insulting
calling him up and thanking him for the privilege
many of them called me they said you know Donald, you’re right, we have a problem and look, there is a problem
Donald Trump knows when to sound incredulous, or forceful
He has good comedic instinct, you can even call him witty
but you can’t call him smart or well informed
the best salesman could sell you a TV without knowing anything about it
because the TV isn’t what matters.
What matters, is you.
And if you are an American citizen who, for years
has listened to politicians sound sophisticated while accomplishing nothing
you might just be primed for something
that is everything they are not.
But the next time you feel like Donald Trump has a point
and look at his words.
Hey everybody, thanks for watching. I want to point you in the direction of my friends over at Wisecrack
who do some awesome work, some awesome video essays. If you like my stuff, you’re definitely going to
like what they do. They talk about books, movies, and my personal favorite is definitely 8-Bit Philosophy,
which is like philosophy explained with Nintendo graphics. So well done. I wish I had thought of that.
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you can click right here, pledge a dollar or three dollars or five dollars to my channel.
Help me start 2016 right. We’re going to do some awesome stuff in the next year.
I can’t wait to see you guys next Wednesday for the next video and I will see you…
Well, I just said I’ll see you next Wednesday, so bye!