Trump’s 2016 Presidential Campaign and Adorno’s Psychological Technique: Content Analyses of Authoritarian Populism
There has been a burgeoning interest in the sociology of the Frankfurt School as well as the oeuvre of Theodor W. Adorno since the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump. The objectives of this study are to both illustrate the enduring importance of Adorno and to provide an important theoretical outline in making sense of Trump’s 2016 United States presidential campaign. Using Adorno’s understudied textual analysis of the radio addresses of Martin Luther Thomas and data from Trump’s 2016 US presidential campaign, we find that Trump’s own discourse can be condensed into three of Adorno’s rhetorical devices: (1) the lone wolf device or anti-statism/pseudo-conservatism, reflecting his criticism of “special interests” and his appraisal of business and (self-)finance; (2) the movement device, which amounted to glorification of action; and (3) the exactitude of error device which amounted to xenophobic, ethnonationalist hyperbole.
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