Appealing to Sixth Graders

Donald Trump has been effective in many ways for the right wing party, but one of the most prominent communication strategies he has used throughout his campaign is how simply he speaks. A study conducted at Carnegie Mellon University found Trump’s grammar to be “just below sixth grade level.” Throughout his campaign voters have seen Donald Trump reject the status quo of American politics. Trump is popular for telling it how it is and he does so in a very straightforward and elementary way. Regarding trade, Trump has stated, “They’re using our country as a piggy bank to rebuild China.” Comparing the US economy to a “piggy bank” is just one example of how Trump uses a small vocabulary in order to get his point across. It is in one sense simple and at the same time direct. Chelsea Coe at Wired magazine wrote, “To his supporters, Trump’s style is refreshingly direct.” Voters are tired of hearing candidates using big words and communicating about topics in ways that are hard to understand and full of political jargon. Trump has recognized this among his audience and used it to his advantage.


In the primaries, Trump got his fellow Republican candidates to follow in his lead. Ted Cruz began his campaign speeches at a tenth grade reading level and by February he had fallen to just above an eight-grade level. Speaking at a low reading level means you are able to communicate with a larger audience. About forty percent of Americans have only basic reading skills, which means candidates have to compensate with a simpler way of getting their points across. At a rally, Trump spoke on America and its trade policies commenting that, “our economy isn’t growing at all.” I do not know how much plainer he could have put it. It is such a simple sentence a first grader could even understand it and that is how Trump grabs ahold of his audience. He does not tip toe around topics, but speaks about them directly and without flooding his positions with big words and political jargon to make him sound smarter. Its effectiveness is prevalent among his supporters who do not think he is speaking in a condescending way, but rather the opposite, “He’s…talking to us not like we’re stupid.” Like him or hate him, Donald Trump knows how to communicate with his audience, which may include some twelve year olds.

They ‘talk the talk,’ but can they ‘walk the walk?’

If there is one thing more surprising than both Clinton and Trump agreeing that the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is horrible, its that both candidates are putting on the facade of promising voters that they will reform or ultimately do away with the partnership all together. Well, in a few short weeks, either Clinton or Trump is going to be forced ‘walk the walk’ in regards to the intricate levels of rhetorical ‘talk’ that has been conducted throughout the campaign.

Throughout the presidental campaign,  both candidates have repeatedly shared their opposition to the TPP deal (which goal is to promote economic growth and cutting down tariffs on trade among 12 Pacific Rim nations – with the notable exclusion of China).

According to a recently published (Oct. 20) article by the South China Morning Post, “despite all the anti-TPP election rhetoric, many analysts still say the next US president is likely to adopt the pact, albeit under a different name and with possible alterations.” In short, not “walking the walk.”

Elizabeth Economy, director for Asia studies at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations affirms that, “being candidates and being presidents are two very different things.”

Can this mean that all of the time that Clinton and Trump have spent constructing their US / China relationship rhetoric and all of the time the rhetorical audience has spent critiquing, believing, or arguing it, is all a moot point?  Well isn’t that unfortunate. Also, let us not forget that Clinton has already flipped her side once on the TPP, changing her rhetoric regarding the deal all together.

Economy goes on further to state that, “people who say they’re going to do one thing when they’re campaigning end up doing the exact opposite once they’re sitting in the White House.”

Furthermore, a recent study by the Honolulu-based East-West Centre’s Washington office reached conclusions that reiterated Economy’s opinions.  The study reported that the future of the TPP deal could “hang in the balance if Obama fails to get the trade pact ratified before he steps down – especially if Trump wins the election.” It is unlikely that TPP would get approved if Trump were to become President, but the study revealed that if Clinton wins, it is likely “she may publicly move to approve the pact with amendments, promising a difficult and perhaps contentious process in gaining needed international and congressional approvals.” 

Thus, Clinton would be facing a new set of rhetorical constraints – those of the role of the President of the United States. As the candidates rhetorical purpose transcends candidacy to presidency, it is more than understandable that their rhetoric will transcend alongside of them. With this making logical sense (at least to me), it is curious to consider that many of the rhetorical situations created throughout the campaign by the candidates are simply of symbolic function. Because in the end, the only rhetorical situation that truly matters is the one that is created when the chosen candidate sit down in the Oval Office for the first time.


Your Move

Playing Sides

Now in the nominating stage of the 2016 presidential election, Clinton and Trump are brutally fighting for the win. Trump’s campaign issues of trade are calling attention to a message for an unpredictable audience. His rhetorical style of involving issues with the middle class are surprising as “Trump has upended GOP orthodoxy on free trade by running on a restrictionist platform in an appeal to working-class voters.” As he has consistently preached of imposing tariffs on foreign goods and doing away with NAFTA, Trump’s use of rhetoric is supporting the underdog. In this scenario the underdog is the middle class working folk.

legitimizing Players

At this point in the election each candidate has to reaffirm legitimacy for office. Hilary has the upper hand as she as been in the office once before, at this point Trump needs to improve his strategies and talk about issues concerning the masses. Clinton being on the left side of politics targets the middle class but “Clinton has “expressed skepticism about trade but in effect represents stasis.”.” Trump has in turn used this as a way to gain supporters. Right side politicians do not concern themselves with the livelihoods of the working class, but if Trump can deliver his message strong enough he may sway left side voters. Taking a stand on trade is tricky, but the issue exist because trade with China has taken away so many jobs from middle class citizens.


Check Mate!

Trump is speaking up for those unemployed middle class citizens. As the graph shows a steadily rising unemployment rate coinciding with a rising import rate, you see how China is taking advantage of the United States. China’s trade is most directly affecting the middle class worker. Donald Trump’s unorthodox ways of jumping between left and right side politics have improved his rhetoric situation at present. At this rate enough people who are tired of looking for jobs that don’t exists will follow Trump’s lead. Polls had said that many voters for Trump were not open about being supporters. These people could come from issues like trade, and they just just might be those secret supporters. This campaign is a game of chess and Trump is smart about his use of pawns.

Frenemies: How does China view Trump and Clinton?

imgres-2As the U.S. Presidential Election Day approaches, the Chinese are paying closer attention to who will be elected as the next president. It has become normal for candidates to take the anti-China posture over the years, and has continued to be at the forefront of issues this presidential election. Trump has made controversial statements about China like, the country’s currency devaluation would “suck the blood out” of America or “We [Americans] can’t continue to allow China to rape our country.” Although, Trump has taken his rhetoric about China to new heights, but Clinton has gained a reputation of being “very fierce” when it comes to China, according to a Chinese official. We have discussed over the past few weeks how both candidates’ rhetoric has influence American voters, but how do the Chinese view the rhetoric of Trump and Hillary?

Hillary is No Friend of China’s

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attends a news conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing September 5, 2012. REUTERS/Feng Li/Pool (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR37I2M
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attends a news conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing September 5, 2012.

Some Chinese officials look at Clinton — the current secretary of state under President Barack Obama— as the candidate who would bring continuity to U.S.-China in regards to the two countries’ intertwined economies, but this assertion ignores differences between her and President Obama. Not only is Clinton generally considered more to have a more aggressive rhetoric than Obama on issues of projecting American strength abroad, but she has demonstrated a pattern of criticizing China on trade and human rights issues.  Clinton’s history with China extends all the way from a 1995 speech that stirred controversy in Beijing, up to a recent 2015 tweet about the country’s persecution of feminists.  Although Clinton’s plans with trade with China may be less harsh than Trump, her rhetoric is more predictable than Trump. “She is predictable, they generally know how she approaches China: There are aspects they don’t like about her, but they generally know what to expect,” Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia and director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said.

“Donald Trump is a Puzzlement”


Trump’s campaign has used recurrent pattern of language to gain American supports that were negatively affected by the U.S. Trade policy with China. However, Trumps rhetoric to gain American manufacturing supporters has created an adverse effect in regards to the Chinese.  According to Chinese officials, Donald trump is a puzzlement. “They don’t like his proclamations about what he would do in terms of tariffs on Chinese goods, and that he’d go after China on economic and trade issues. But having said that, I don’t think there are many who think he can follow through on what he’s talking about, or even if he knows what he’s talking about,” Kenneth Lieberthal, senior fellow emeritus, said. On the contrary, many Chinese actually support Trump. Not because they agree with his trade policies, but because of his rhetoric on issue of the Islamic State and terrorism and low-set focus on human rights, oppose to his opponent Clinton. They believe that his focus on these issues will distract him from U.S.-Sino relations.

Friends and Enemies

Ultimately, the Chinese will remain frenemies with the United States regardless if either candidate is elected into office. Trump’s aggressive rhetoric may be affective to his American supporters, but the Chinese do not seem to be very receptive to him actually being a threat to their economy in regards to his trade reform. Clinton may not be liked by the Chinese, and could use less harsh rhetoric when it comes to China to build a better relationship with the country.


Free Trade? You’re Kidding Hillary

Wednesday night’s debate didn’t give us anything new on trade like we hoped. This being the case it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen for their reiteration of plans on policy. Trump made sure to call Clinton out on a piece of information released by wikileaks. The wikileaks recovered a speech from Clinton to a private bank. The speech contained matter on the issue of open trade and open borders. Clinton was quoted as saying in the speech “ My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, some time in the future with energy that is green and sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every person in the hemisphere.”

What does this mean to the liberals? Ahh nothing major, she probably wouldn’t actually endorse absolute free trade. That is old news. The liberals have either made their decision on the email scandal; her supporters have pretty much muted the email accusations being whirled at her. So this issue on free trade and open borders has probably not been acknowledged by her supporters.


As for the right wing conservatives this has infuriated them. They are drawing conclusions like Clinton would drop any rules and regulations on trade. This is clearly not what we need. It is not going to put jobs in America or strengthen our economy. Clinton of course replied by saying she didn’t actually mean free trade instead about how we trade energy. Anyone believe that or was it a quick coverup? We do not know the exact context in which she meant it due to such a small portion of the speech being leaked but what if she is truly talking about trade? What else would this do to the United States to drop regulations, tariffs, and regulations? Free trade at its core is allowing trade to take its natural course. We cannot let trade do this.

How to Win an Election Without Answering Any Questions

lksadjfklDonald Trump’s power of his rhetoric comes in the form of an enthymeme. An enthymeme is simply giving an argument and letting the audience fill in the blanks with whatever they believe Trump is meaning to say. The problem with this rhetorical strategy is many people interpret Donald Trump very differently and that results in many people filling in the blanks with different things. This downfall is also what makes it genius. Donald Trump does not have to provide an answer for half of his policies because he lets his audience answer for him. For example, his slogan: “Make America Great Again!” When was America great? How did it become anything less than great? When will it become great again? These are all questions that go unanswered by Donald Trump himself. You know who does answer these questions? The audience. Anyone could have an answer to these questions and the most amazing part is no one can tell the audience they are wrong because there is no solid, definitive answer. It is the most genius rhetorically strategy of either campaign because it has hooked an entire population of voters by giving them more questions than answers. He employs this strategy again when he promises to “make America wealthy again.” He takes his slogan and spins it to regard trade, but again, like his slogan, he leaves an entire audience of people with unanswered questions that he assumes we should answer for ourselves. When was America not wealthy? When were we wealthy? Last time I checked, the United States of America had, for the last one hundred years, the largest GPD.


Donald Trump’s use of the enthymeme does not stop here. In a speech in Monessen, Pennsylvania he vowed to “never, ever sign bad trade deals” and to “put America first again!” Trump’s magical enthymeme word is “again” implying that at one point in history America was great, America was wealthy, and America was put first, but now it is not. Trump is a master at the enthymeme because he understands his audience far beyond Clinton does. He knows what his audience will think about what he says before he says it and this gives him the power to put blanks in his policies where he wants his audience to fill in. With this communication strategy he is able to reach numerous amounts of people by appealing to them without having to directly say what he means.

China China China China China China China

Above is simply a video of Donald Trump repeating ‘China’ over and over and over again. Though this is a bit extreme of a representation, Trump’s repetition of ‘China’ throughout the campaign and in the video serve to highlight the importance he has placed on a the United State’s relationship with China throughout his career as a businessman and brief experience as a politician. When watching the video, it only takes around 15 seconds to realize that he is aggressive and intense when discussing China. This outlandish and bold behavior is precisely what enables him to be viewed as such a unique presidental candidate.

He is not politically correct. 

A recently published article includes quotes from a Chinese-American woman who – wait for it – is a Donald Trump supporter. Throughout her life, Ying Ma has dealt with numerous vicious, racist, personal, and public attacks for her political views.

Ma, a Cornell and Stanford Law educated professional, scholar, and author reveals that is was Trump’s war “on political correctness as the thing that ultimately drew her to the candidate.”

“Yet I believe this same man will overthrow — not just tinker with — the wretched political correctness that governs this country’s discussions and policies about race, ethnicity, gender, and other immutable characteristics. He will fight for Americans in a way that Republicans and Democrats have long been afraid to do, and he will think big, act boldly, and choose common sense over ingrained practices.”

Ma, a self-declared deplorable, states that she is a labeled a deplorable because she “dares to have a dissenting opinion.” Overall, for Ma, Donald Trump offers millions of Americans something she believes political correctness aims to squander – a voice.

So, what does this have to do with China, Trump and trade?

Trump is not politically correct; he never has been and most likely never will be. We spend time analyzing his rhetoric, when the truth is – it is not that complex. Trump says what is on his mind, and if thats ‘China, China, China, China,’ well, at least what you see is what you get. Trump has already proven to America that is not afraid to be bold and go against the grain – something that strongly separates him from a politician with 30 years of experience. Perhaps instead of focusing on the uneducated and aggressive nature of Trump’s rhetoric when discussing China, we should consider the opportunities created from his lack of ‘politically correctness’ and the constraints imposed by Clinton’s safe (but smarter) rhetorical style.


While both Clinton and Trump are looking to the platform of ‘change’ in regards to US trade with China, Trump has the opportunity to deliver a more powerful and enlightening stance in the final debate through his choices of ‘politically incorrect rhetoric.’ Overall, in this election, Trump is going into battle against more than just Clinton, Democrats, women, millennials, minorities – he is fighting a war against what the ‘PC rhetoric” of American politics has become.




Trump on the Phone – America on the Line


Who’s calling?

Trump’s phone conference on Your Money -Your Vote posted on CNBC targets the right audience. Considering that CNBC generally focuses on Wall Street, Trump had the attention of multiple groups other than the GOP. This news conference worked with Trump’s rhetoric of speech types as he accomplished three very important tasks. One, discussing a limited number of issues. Two, targeting an audience. And three, creating an agenda to benefit his campaign.

The message

Trump’s form of address appearing on Your Money – Your Vote was a great way for him to answer planted questions. When the show host asked Trump about what he thinks the U.S should do in regards to trade with China, his answer was thoughtful and thorough. He spoke of how “you can charge surtax or you can charge a tax for products that they sell in the United States“. He explained that the higher tax would cause more people to buy American goods since they would be less expensive than foreign ones.  Through Trump’s rhetorical strategies, his agenda and planted questions made himself appear very knowledgeable. All the while being very successful at targeting a large audience through his choice of news conference.


The graph above shows America’s imports to exports ratio from 2007 to 2013 in quarterly increments, it is obvious that something needs to change. Trump’s ideals may shock many because no one wants higher prices, but his rhetorical strategies might get voters on his bandwagon. Knowing how to deliver a message is very important. Trump’s conference on Your Money – Your Vote  that called attention to this issue can inform people across the nation, I mean who doesn’t watch T.V or surf the internet this day in age?

The Call Back.

This news conference can touch the minds of those who claim themselves as independent. Some people don’t acknowledge the presidential debates and those people could powerfully sway an election. Getting the attention of these people while also appearing as a logical choice of president is important. In this case Trump’s plans on trade would make him seem like a good choice separating him from his opponent, from a campaign strategist perspective this could greatly benefit him in this election.

Trump and Clinton vs. China

As the 2016 U.S. presidential election comes to an end, one thing is certain: both Trump and Clinton will use their unique rhetorical styles to win American votes by attacking China.

The two candidates may not agree on much, but they do agree on one thing: that China has robbed millions of American jobs and policies need to be put into place to bring jobs back to the states.

The US presidential candidates love to talk viciously on China and trade. Clinton is intimately associated with the Obama administration’s 2011 pivot to Asia – a strategy designed to counter growing Chinese influence in the region; while Trump talks continuously about bringing manufacturing jobs back from China to the US.imgres

Thus, how will both candidates actually behave in office? Trump’s aggressive rhetorical style can make him seem tough, but talking tough and being tough are two entirely different playing fields.

Voters must ask themselves “Would either candidate really make big changes in US policies towards China if elected to the presidency?”

Trump can talk tough..

The Trump campaign has prided itself on its slogan, ” Make America Great Again.” Trump is very adamant that trade with China is something that has made America less great than it could be.

In the video above, Trump outlines a seven point plan to bring jobs back to the states.  Trump claims he will declare China as a  currency manipulator if elected into office.  He also threatens that he will stop China from stealing American intellectual property.  Lastly, Trump claims that he will put an end to unfair competition by making China live up to the same kinds of labor and environmental standards that US firms have to meet. Ultimately, Trump uses the symbolic world view as a rhetoric strategy when discussing trade with China. He is advocating change by implementing harsh trade restrictions on China in order to bring back jobs to the states. Manufacturing workers may be fond of this idea, but Trump must present a practical plan to gain the rest of the American vote.

Clinton in the middle?


Clinton also talk tough about China, but her statements are less extreme than those of Trump. She has not broadcasted a position on China being a currency manipulator. Rather, she has talked about denying China market economy status under US law, a position that isn’t enjoyable in trade law anywhere in the world. In short, Clinton claims to be hard on trade with China if elected into presidency. However, her approach is less intense and more stable than Trump. If Clinton continues to use this as a rhetorical strategy, she can win votes on her rhetoric of trade policy between the US and China.



Trumps Rhetoric Heard Round The World

As we have all made it a point to look at issues we find important when choosing a candidate to vote for in the 2016 election their policies play a large role in deciding which we will vote for. Many of us find trade and foreign policy to be a big issue in this year’s election. When looking at the rest of the United States and what issues they see as important we can see trade is a major issue to up to 57% of Americans. We have learned that it is extremely important when watching debates between the two candidates to pick out which issues matter most to you and watch how the candidates discuss and debate them. If trade is one that is important to you I would love to know how you plan on voting this election seeing as neither candidate can seem to map out a logical plan of how they intend to bring jobs back from China and tighten the grip on trade with China. Trump and Clinton stand on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to trade, the only thing they seem to agree on is their mutual dislike of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

China is one of the countries we focus a lot of attention on when we discuss trade. We know that both Presidential candidates are in favor of putting their foot down to China when it comes to trade. We have heard Trumps rhetoric on trade and how mind blowing it can be at times. If we in the United States are baffled to hear the way Trump discusses trade with China what do the people of China think when they hear these remarks from Trump? Zhang Yuanan A News Reporter from a Chinese news channel was interviewed by NPR. The discussion was mainly about Chinas feelings toward the Presidential election seeing as it not only affects the United States but other countries as well. When asked about Trump’s comment “ We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country,” we found a reaction not much different from America’s reaction. Yuanan said “The rhetoric is very unconventional, that we – we’ve never heard from a U.S. presidential candidate.”  We as American citizens can agree with Yuanan on this one. The rhetoric coming from Trump alone is unlike any we have heard before. Although it may be a stretch I feel that when we discuss in class Trump being unstable in the sense of holding the nuclear codes we can honestly see how unstable he is just by the language he uses. The man can’t keep inappropriate comments to himself or out of his language when referring to business between countries that should be rhetorically professional. As it is no surprise Trump cant keep his slams on women and others in general down to a minimum we can see he has no filter when it comes to the rhetoric of our nations trade and serious issues which help keep our country running. We do not want a man running the country who can’t keep his inappropriate comments at home and out of the business of our nation.