All talks about Donald Trump’s antics are on his shrewd showmanship which is indisputably effective, in retaining attention and drowning criticisms. But critics have taken no note of the power of his language, as well as his way of performing his language in texts such as his campaign speeches and press conference rants. Instead they ridicule it, ruthlessly and stupidly. Media coverage is flooded by the kind of comments such as Year 3 grammar and vocabulary, grammatical mistakes, typos, overtly simple text structure, illogical arguments …The list goes on. All of them certainly make sense if Trump’s language is compared with the style shared by the past US presidents and contemporary world leaders which is polished, grammatical, conspicuously academic, and unmistakably elite like. The kind of questions here I’d like to ask is: is this style really typical of the elite? Or is it simply outdated and out of touch.
Frustrated by Trump’s rusty-belt support, appeal to the lower-income white families, and so-called anti-intellect trend, very few critics and activists have calmed down and reflect on our language practices. For instances. How do we create text in digital times on our phone, blog, Facebook, and Twitter? Do we really use those classic rhetorical devices and the text conventions mediated by the print? Not really. In fact, over the past 20 years, our text practices and training basically have been turned upside down while we are migrating to the digital space. It seems the majority of us are doing well and are ripping all kinds of benefit from this change. To just name a few: speedy communications, easy access, and diverse channels and media.
But surprisingly and unfortunately, the majority of politicians and educators share the same front in language education and are active in condemning the new landscape of literacy education. They are worried about the Generation Y: too much screen time, lack of handwriting, dwindling interest in classic literature, too much video/VR gaming, insatiable texting… The list goes on, as well, and certainly it is an ominous sign of downgrading literacy and constitutes literacy jeopardy . To rescue the new generations, they throw billions of dollars into implementing conceivable sorts of standardized tests to name and shame students, schools, and universities and restore the old, outdated literacy skills. Many mainstream media are trapped in this mentality and have become accomplice in redistributing this discourse, uncritically.
Well this may seem ironic, or even trivial. But triviality is often where rebellion and revolution originate, if we genuinely believe those famous sayings that words are swords and that texts (discourse, narratives, etc.) have power. In retrospect, we must reassess Trump’s language and the texts he and his team are creating. They are not Year 3 level and they are embraced by the Gen Y dearly, wittingly and unwittingly. It really does not matter what type of membership we are holding. As Trump is a successful show business veteran, he understands and uses our language and texts all too well and he has been performing by exactly the same script to grab our eyes and hearts. To sum up with a blunt and bleak statement: we are all Trump fans, subconsciously. And even more troubling is: virtually, Trump has no rivals among his contemporaries in creating and performing our text . It is no secret that Trump will continue instigating controversies and causing serious problems, unless brave leaders of the Gen Y are willing to stand up.