David Beaver and Jason Stanley writes: As many have noted, when President Donald J. Trump speaks publicly, his rhetorical style is quite different from that of previous presidents. From the inauguration to his National Prayer Breakfast address to his provocative tweets, the president seems to speak just to his supporters. He regularly wields the language of violence and destruction against those who oppose his actions.
Ordinarily, presidents use democratic rhetoric with the goal of unifying Americans who have different private beliefs behind the same set of democratic ideals. This president’s rhetoric is significantly different.
Here’s how we compared Trump’s commitment to democratic ideals with the commitment of his predecessors
The central norms of liberal democratic societies are liberty, justice, truth, public goods and tolerance. To our knowledge, no one has proposed a metric by which to judge a politician’s commitment to these democratic ideals.
A direct way suggested itself to us: Why not simply add up the number of times those words and their synonyms are deployed? If the database is large enough, this should provide a rough measure of a politician’s commitment to these ideals. How does Trump’s use of these words compare to that of his presidential predecessors?
At Language Log, the linguist Mark Liberman graphed how unusual Trump’s inaugural speech was, graphing the frequency of critical words used in each of the past 50 years’ inaugural speeches — and showing how much more nationalist language, and how much less democratic language Trump used than did his predecessors. [Continue reading…]