Title of Abstract

The Object of the Steal: What Trump Said His Supporters Stood to Lose

Submitting Student(s)

Jariel BidoFollow

Faculty Mentor

Two WU mentors: Jennifer Leigh Disney, Ph.D.;disneyj@winthrop.edu; Brandon Ranallo-Benavidez, Ph.D.;benavidezb@winthrop.edu

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Political Science

Faculty Mentor

Jennifer Disney, Ph.D. and Brandon Ranallo-Benavidez, Ph.D.

Abstract

Donald J. Trump’s appeal to right-wing American populist ideals during his campaign and later tenure as the President of the United States garnered him attention, scorn, and sympathizers thanks to his often racist and paranoid criticism of mainstream American politics. After a loss in the 2020 election, Trump’s presidential saga rhetorically culminated in a speech that incited an attempted coup at the American capital. This article presents a rhetorical analysis of this speech framed by the perspective of theft, asserting that Trump’s topical and rhetorical choices encourage audience action by convincing the audience that it is not simply losing, but being taken advantage of. Content analyses of Trump’s Twitter tweets and previous key rally speeches supplant this article by providing topic-specific background on Trump’s evolving rhetoric in the last four years. I discuss how this rhetoric of theft and cheating is particularly compatible with populist ideals, explaining how this speech gave a call and a direction to masses of people long encouraged to action.

Course Assignment

PLSC 490 - Disney; Ranallo-Benavidez

Type of Presentation

Oral presentation

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The Object of the Steal: What Trump Said His Supporters Stood to Lose

Donald J. Trump’s appeal to right-wing American populist ideals during his campaign and later tenure as the President of the United States garnered him attention, scorn, and sympathizers thanks to his often racist and paranoid criticism of mainstream American politics. After a loss in the 2020 election, Trump’s presidential saga rhetorically culminated in a speech that incited an attempted coup at the American capital. This article presents a rhetorical analysis of this speech framed by the perspective of theft, asserting that Trump’s topical and rhetorical choices encourage audience action by convincing the audience that it is not simply losing, but being taken advantage of. Content analyses of Trump’s Twitter tweets and previous key rally speeches supplant this article by providing topic-specific background on Trump’s evolving rhetoric in the last four years. I discuss how this rhetoric of theft and cheating is particularly compatible with populist ideals, explaining how this speech gave a call and a direction to masses of people long encouraged to action.