I understand that Trump claims that people who read his speech thought it was appropriate. I'm an expert in rhetoric. It was not appropriate. He used war rhetoric and incited a violent insurrection against the United States.
Trump's war rhetoric used a combo of four things:
1) exterminationism (a plague must be removed to be pure again);
2) ad baculum (threats of force);
3) "we" are good, strong, pure, sure of victory;
4) we are innocent victims.
1) Exterminationist rhetoric (there's a plague we must remove to be pure again): "our country will be destroyed, and we’re not going to stand for that." "The radical left knows exactly what they’re doing. They’re ruthless and it’s time that somebody did something about it."
2) Ad baculum (threats of force): "these people are not going to take it any longer"; "He’s got guts, unlike a lot of people in the Republican party. He’s got guts, he fights...He looked at Mike Pence, and I hope Mike is going to do the right thing."
"Unbelievable, what we have to go through, what we have to go through & you have to get your people to fight. If they don’t fight, we have to primary the hell out of the ones that don’t fight. You primary them. We’re going to let you know who they are."
"We’re going to have to fight much harder and Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us. If he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country because you’re sworn to uphold our constitution."
"After this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you. We’re going to walk down...We’re going walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women. We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because"
"you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated."
"I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard." "And I’m going to be watching, because history is going to be made. We’re going to see whether or not we have great and courageous leaders or"
"whether or not we have leaders that should be ashamed of themselves throughout history, throughout eternity, they’ll be ashamed. And you know what? If they do the wrong thing, we should never ever forget that they did. Never forget. We should never ever forget."
"Mike Pence, I hope you’re going to stand up for the good of our constitution and for the good of our country. And if you’re not, I’m going to be very disappointed in you. I will tell you right now. I’m not hearing good stories."
So we’re going to, we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue..and we’re going to the Capitol and we’re going to try and give…The Democrats are hopeless. They’re never voting for anything, not even one vote. But we’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones,"
"because the strong ones don’t need any of our help, we’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country. So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue."
3) We're strong & sure of victory: "Hundreds of thousands of American patriots are committed to the honesty of our elections & the integrity of our glorious Republic";"We will never give up. We will never concede, it doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved."
"We will not take it anymore and that’s what this is all about"; "We will not let them silence your voices. We’re not going to let it happen. Not going to let it happen.<crowd Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump!>;
"You’re stronger, you’re smarter. You’ve got more going than anybody, and they try and demean everybody having to do with us, and you’re the real people. You’re the people that built this nation. You’re not the people that tore down our nation."
"We will not be intimidated into accepting the hoaxes and the lies that we’ve been forced to believe over the past several weeks." "but it’s never going to be the end of us, never. Let them get out. Let the weak ones get out. This is a time for strength."
"we have truth & justice on our side. We have a deep & enduring love for America in our hearts. We love our country. We have overwhelming pride in this great country & we have it deep in our souls..."
"Together we are determined to defend & preserve government of the people, by the people and for the people."
4) We're innocent victims: "our election victory stolen by emboldened radical left Democrats"; "for years Democrats have gotten away with election fraud"; "Democrats attempted the most brazen & outrageous election theft..It’s a pure theft in American history, everybody knows it."
"Our media is not free. It’s not fair. It suppresses thought. It suppresses speech, and it’s become the enemy of the people. It’s become the enemy of the people." "Our country has been under siege for a long time, far longer than this four-year period."
Trump typically uses reification (treating people as objects), but this time he didn't, though he did use ad hominem (attacking the person) with things like "the radical left" and the media is the "enemy."
His speech primarily used a combination of ad baculum & "we're strong & sure of victory." That combination was used to motivate action. They're threatening our democracy so we will threaten them, Trump told his crowd. We're more powerful & we'll win.
He was a general motivating his troops. His troops then stormed the Capitol, just like he asked them to do. He ended the speech, "So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. I want to thank you all. God bless you & God bless America. Thank you all for being here, this is incredible."
There isn't a great battle plan in the speech, Trump isn't much of a planner, tbh. He tells his crowd that everything is on the line, a great injustice against them & the pure nation is happening and they are all powerful and can stop it <somehow>. Then tells them to march.
Pair that with what he said later that night:

Someone asked me to explain how Trump used war rhetoric in his speech earlier today, but I wasn't able to get to it until now. Sorry! I wanted to be sure to say this tonight since I know the impeachment tomorrow hinges on it, in part.

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More from @jenmercieca

12 Jan
This @rhetsoc Board of Directors’ Statement Condemning Insurrectional Rhetoric and Resulting Violence 1/6/21 is very good:

"Scholars of rhetoric have viewed the recent domestic terrorist attacks on the Capitol and the principles of democracy with horror."
The events of this week result from years of political rhetoric that has dehumanized individuals and groups, encouraged violence, and eroded the norms of responsible governance."
"As its Board of Directors and as a scholarly organization, the Rhetoric Society of America is dedicated to the deliberative potential of rhetoric through reasoned disagreement that disavows violence, condemns white supremacy, and exhibits the best ideals of human communication."
Read 14 tweets
12 Jan
"Trump has lost his agenda-setting power & he's trying to force positive news stories about his presidency by doing a 'highlights reel' of events & photo-ops," said Mercieca, who wrote "Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump." usatoday.com/story/news/pol…
I hope media will think carefully about how (or if) they report Trump's speech today. They have all the power in this situation. Treat this the same way you'd treat a speech delivered by a terrorist group leader. Don't livestream/tweet it.
Whatever he says today is not news. It's marketing. It's a distraction. It's likely further incitement. There will be a small audience in Alamo, TX, let that be how far his message spreads. #DeplatformTrump
Read 7 tweets
10 Jan
There's been a lot of interest in my Trump book since he incited an insurrection on Wednesday. I felt very nervous about publishing a book that calls the sitting president a demagogue, but I think it's clear now that's absolutely what he is.
I hope my book will continue to be useful for people to understand how a demagogue became president in the first place. ImageImage
My editor sent me a note on Wednesday asking if I was working on a sequel. My response was "lol/cry." Someone else can write that book.
Read 4 tweets
10 Jan
The de-platforming of Trump is an especially important moment in the relationship between the press and the presidency. Here's an article as background: oaktrust.library.tamu.edu/handle/1969.1/…
Presidential rhetoric scholars explain that presidents before Wilson (maybe TR) rarely addressed the public. Most of their communication was ceremonial or directed to other branches of government.
But early 20th century presidents began to use new media technology to "go over the heads of Congress" and speak directly to the people. They tried to get the public to put pressure on Congress to enact their agenda.
Read 30 tweets
9 Jan
This @chrislhayes segment from last night about how violent the insurrection actually was, is very good (and disturbing): msnbc.com/all-in/watch/c…
There's a lot of interest in the relationship between communication & violence right now, so I'm going to thread some things I've written that you can read if you want to learn more. >>
First, an open access essay on "dangerous demagogues" and "weaponized communication"--using language as force to intimidate. It's got some parts from my Trump book in it & examples of Trump, Alex Jones & white nationalists: oaktrust.library.tamu.edu/handle/1969.1/…
Read 17 tweets

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