Statement for the Record: Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, U. S. House of Representatives, March 31, 2022
MetadataShow full item record
Former President Donald John Trump communicates like a dangerous demagogue does. A dangerous demagogue is a political leader who uses anti-democratic language and refuses to be held accountable for their words and/or actions. Political accountability is necessary because rhetoric and political power are so easily abused. Unaccountable leaders are dangerous in any position of power, but especially in government. Communication can be used to facilitate and strengthen democracy, or it can be used as a weapon to destroy it. There are legal standards defining protected political speech, but communication that meets the minimum legal standard may not necessarily help to build and maintain democracy. Communication that helps to build trust, diminish conflict, and solve political problems strengthens democracy; communication that damages trust, increases conflict, and prevents problem solving destroys it. Democracy-building language uses persuasion as a method of decision-making and cooperation. Democracy-destroying language uses persuasion as force (as propaganda) and as a technique of control. Democracy ought to be the weighing mechanism by which we judge the quality, appropriateness, and value of political communication because in America—where we consider our government a democracy—whether or not a political candidate or leader’s rhetoric promotes and protects democracy is the most fundamental quality in assessing their fitness for office. By this standard President Trump is unfit for political office. Below I draw from research I’ve conducted on President Trump’s communication strategies to explain how he uses anti-democratic language in ways that make it difficult to hold him accountable for his dangerous speech. Trump is an aggressive, relentless, irresponsible, and defiant political communicator who uses coercion rather than persuasion and wields language as a weapon. Trump uses threats, attacks, conspiracy theory, evasion, and lies to avoid accountability. Trump uses these same strategies to subvert and delegitimize democracy.
(2022). Statement for the Record: Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, U. S. House of Representatives, March 31, 2022. Available electronically from