Jennifer Mercieca on Donald Trump, Demagogue
In Conversation with Andrew Keen on
the Keen On Podcast
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On today’s episode, Jennifer Mercieca, Texas A&M University professor and author of the upcoming book Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump, discusses the danger of rhetoric and how Trump has fundamentally changed the discourse of the American public sphere.
From the episode:
Jennifer Mercieca: Trump is absolutely a demagogue. What I do in my book is I try to make a distinction between the heroic leader of the people who defends the people’s interest from the other parts of the state and the dangerous demagogue who uses polarizing propaganda for his or her own gain. The dangerous demagogue is someone who uses weaponized communication.
What I show in the book is that Trump actually said he was going to be an unaccountable leader. That was his own rejection of political correctness and of elite leadership. He said he wasn’t going to be beholden to the party, the media, or standards of decency. He said that he was going to fight for his people and their interests. Trump’s followers during the 2016 campaign and since hear that and see him as this heroic demagogue who is defending their interests. Everyone else sees him as a dangerous demagogue: someone who is using polarizing propaganda for his own gains.
Jennifer Mercieca is associate professor in the Department of Communication at Texas A&M University. She is the author of Founding Fictions and coeditor of The Rhetoric of Heroic Expectations: Establishing the Obama Presidency. She frequently appears as an expert commentator and consultant for national and international media outlets