Revisiting Trump’s Argument for America

 On Nov 4, 2016, Trump released a two-minute ad entitled “Donald Trump’s Argument for America,” in which he outlined his political rationale by targeting individuals whom he considered to represent a failed political system, which disadvantaged the American people.

The ad features prominent political and financial figures, such as Democratic financier and hedge fund manager George Soros, Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and the Democratic Nominee at the time Hillary Clinton. All these individuals, according to Trump, do not have the best interest of the average American in mind. Instead, Trump notes that the establishment is “responsible for our disastrous trade deals, massive illegal immigration and economic and foreign policies that have bled our country dry.”

He follows this, by painting a rather grim and destitute picture of America, stating: “The political establishment has brought about the destruction of our factories and our jobs as they flee to Mexico, China, and other countries all around the world. It’s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.

These words serve to evoke a populist agenda, through repeated use of the term establishment, accompanied by dismal adjectives that were intended to accentuate Trump’s messaging that politicians and government have inadequately served their constituents.  

In doing so, Trump seeks to exploit tendencies of the average American,  that being a general lack of trust in the government and a resoundingly negative view on its competency. [1] As such, Trump’s dark imagery resonates with many Americans who might not necessarily agree with his policies or “charisma,” thereby forcing some to reevaluate how they view the government and shift their focus to what Trump repeatedly defines as a “failed political system.”.  

Furthermore, Trump’s rhetoric is simple, with short sentences straight to the point, heavily laced with trigger terms that evoke emotion in people, such as illegal immigration, the economy, trade deals and foreign policy. By doing this, he is able to develop feelings within people with respect to these issues, without having to go into further detail. Some might even consider his tone to be inspiring.

Another notable bit of rhetoric used by Trump towards the end of his speech, was an emphasis on Americans, speaking directly to the viewer in the second person. In his closing remarks, he states, “The only thing that can stop this corrupt machine is you. The only force strong enough to save our country is us. The only people brave enough to vote out this corrupt establishment is you, the American people.” This strong outreach was aimed at rallying support against “the corrupt establishment,” rather than an opposing party, making it seem as though Trump were a noble savior combatting evil.  

Now, whether you like or hate the guy, his rhetoric was successful in that it was able to be understood by a vast number of people, by actively speaking to the crowd and avoiding verbose, complicated narratives. Something George Orwell fancied in his “Politics and the English language.”

But enough of his rhetoric, this is an economically-focused blog after all. Thus, I couldn’t resist pulling apart a few numbers to evaluate the state of our nation economically. The diagram below represents the annualized change in US GDP, with negatively sloped linear regressions drawn to indicate slowing growth. 

The diagram below represents the annualized change in US GDP, with negatively sloped linear regressions drawn to indicate slowing growth,. As shown, the 2016 annual percent change hovers just under 2.0%, according to the growth rate calculated in chained dollars (a method for adjusting for inflation). 

gdp-chart

From the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)

This diagram below reflects the levels of government spending and saving for each quarter starting from 2011. As shown in the graph, government expenditures have gradually risen, while net savings have more rapidly decreased as depicted through the logarithmic regression.

gov-spending-chart

From the Burea of Economic Analysis (BEA)

That being said, these two indicators, though nowhere near conclusive, do give us a general macro feel for the economy.  This does not, however, mean the economy is failing, as they are but two representations of information. Although, a boost, wouldn’t be too bad about now.

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