The cult of personality, anti-intellectualism and the Post-Truth era
This paper contextualizes Donald Trump’s political “Message” (Lempert and Silverstein 2012) within the current anti-intellectualism phenomenon in the Post-Truth era. Trump’s Presidential Announcement Speech marks the beginning of the Trump era, as it introduces critical traits of his persona, message and political agenda to the general audience. From a Discourse Analysis approach, this paper considers Aristotelian modes of persuasion and the multimodal concept of “Message” (ibid.), to contribute to the literature on Trump’s political communication by focusing on the cult of personality and self-representation (i.e. non-politician, overachieving businessman, great leader). Trump built his candidacy and presidency around his persona, distancing himself from the Republican Party and traditional politicians. These strategies allowed Trump to evoke an Ethos capable of saving America. His personal fight against every enemy and threat encapsulates a simple and ingenuous dichotomy “I vs. them” with the populist intention of completing a hyperbolic task: Make America great again.
Keywords: Trump, anti-intellectualism, Post-Truth Era, political discourse, populism
Published online: 04 May 2020
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