Needless to say that politicians have always tried to
convince audiences of the accuracy of the arguments they present in addition to
their own personal conviction and ability to act upon these arguments. K. Hyland maintains that
unless people are convinced that something is true, they are unlikely to be persuaded.
Thus the rhetoric means either the demonstration of the truth or its imitation 21,
p. 63. Argumentation is effective when politicians manage to back up their
claims in such a way that the audience can change their opinion in politicians’
favour. For this reason, politicians need inductive and deductive proofs to
defend their own ideas, to convince the audience and to impact on them. As a
result, they appeal to the three modes of persuasion: logos, ethos and pathos.
The analysis of Trump’s persuasive rhetoric is terms of determining his appeal
to the three modes of persuasion is of paramount importance taking into
consideration the enormous
domestic and global attention to the phenomenon of the most extravagant president
of the USA.
Logos aims at persuading the audience by reason. Trump’s appeal to logos
helps the audience to feel the sense of membership in the political framework. For
this reason, he uses phrases and expressions such as «the truth is», «the facts
aren’t known because», «that’s the way it is», «for the purpose of» as well as
he exploits grammar, the subjunctive mood in particular, helping the audience
comprehend the essence of political issues and their role in dealing with them. Moreover, Trump creates logical reasoning in his discourse by providing
examples which help him to define an idea so that the audience can effortlessly
understand the meaning 65.
Ethos is concerned with the personal appeal of one’s
character. However, the assumption is that a speaker may have a certain
credibility prior to preparing or delivering a text, which is called
preliminary ethos. Nevertheless, according to K. Hyland, preliminary ethos must
constantly be strengthened during the course of the discourse itself 21, p. 64.
Therefore, Trump always tries to reinforce his
preliminary ethos throughout his discourse striving to show off his
intelligence in economics and business so as to convince the audience of his
competence. The following examples are a direct proof to that:
«And our real unemployment is anywhere from 18 to 20 percent. Don’t believe
the 5.6. Don’t believe it» 65.
«And after four or five years in Brooklyn, I ventured into Manhattan and did
a lot of great deals – the Grand Hyatt Hotel. I was responsible for the convention center on the
West Side. I did a lot of great deals, and I did them early and young. And now
I’m building all over the world, and I love what I’m doing» 65.
Another strategy Trump applies so as to appeal to ethos is establishing his
trustworthiness by showing his virtuous character. In fact, his experiences,
values, and motives are the tools to arouse trust among the audience. For
«I’ll bring back our jobs from China, from
Mexico, from Japan, from so many places. I’ll bring back our jobs, and I’ll
bring back our money» 63.
Trump also appeals to ethos by showing his goodwill to the audience.
Goodwill is a perception the audience forms of a speaker who they believe
understands them, empathises with them, and is responsive to them. When the
audience believes in the speaker’s goodwill, they are willing to believe what
the speaker says. Trump is very responsive to the audience throughout his
discourse. He stops his speeches and thanks the audience who exclaim in delight
upon his statements as the following examples prove:
«They’re not sending you. They’re not sending
«Thank you, darling» 61.
Pathos deals with convincing the audience by creating an emotional
response. Pathos also gives persuasive message and power to move the audience to
perform certain actions. Trump’s appeal to pathos is characterised by his
endeavour to evoke a wide spectrum of emotions. Nevertheless, such emotions as anger,
hatred, and confidence prevail in his discourse.
Anger is the emotion Trump exploits to the full. According to Aristotle, anger
comes when people are dissatisfied in their attempt to fulfil a certain need
2, 64. Moreover, anger always arises from offences against oneself and it is
always concerned with individuals. In Trump’s discourse, appeal to anger can be
illustrated by the following example:
«And we have nothing. We can’t even go there. We
have nothing. And every time we give Iraq equipment, the first time a bullet
goes off in the air, they leave it» 65.
Hatred is a feeling which has an immediate effect on the audience. According
to Aristotle, hatred may arise without offences against oneself 2, 70. A
hater wishes to pity a person whom they have hated. In his discourse Trump
arouses hatred in the audience. It is the dominant emotion that he expresses during
his speeches. Trump shows his hatred to the audience so that the audience can
feel the same feeling to certain people. In his discourse he often points out
his hatred to the politicians of his country as well as other countries which
he considers his country’s rivals. The following example proves that:
«And, I can tell, some of the candidates, they
went in. They didn’t know the air-conditioner didn’t work. They sweated like
dogs. They didn’t know the room was too big, because they didn’t have anybody
there. How are they going to beat ISIS? I don’t think it’s gonna happen» 68.
Confidence is the emotion Trump frequently employs in his discourse. According
to Aristotle, confidence comes when someone believes that they are superior to
others and often experiences success 2, 84. Trump’s confident feeling comes
from his belief that he is superior to his rivals. By expressing his
confidence, he shows his optimistic character to the audience:
«I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created. I tell you
To conclude, Trump appeals to the three modes of persuasion in his
discourse. He uses logos to prove that his statements are based on facts. Ethos
is used to show the audience that he is a credible, intelligent politician.
With the help of pathos, Trump tries to evoke the emotions he expresses in the
course of his discourse.