In public speaking, there are three particular appeals that are emphasized as a means for convincing your audience — logos, pathos and ethos.
Logos is the appeal to logic, it is the argument that uses facts, data and statistics to inform the audience. Pathos is the appeal to the audience’s emotions. This may be negative or positive feelings, but they are meant to elicit a response based on raw emotion. Finally, ethos at its most simple form is self-aggrandizement. It is informing the audience of the speaker’s qualifications as to why they are the most reasonable source to listen to.
An effective speaker should incorporate all three of those into their argument to truly reach the audience. That’s what is truly remarkable about President Donald Trump and his brand of politics — he barely incorporates more than one.
If one was to attend a given rally, they would immediately be assaulted with rhetoric appeals ranging from one spectrum only — ethos. Perhaps, that is why he is so successful.
His supporters do not go to rallies to hear promises about future policies that will grow the country’s infrastructure or even international relations. They go there to hear about him.
That is why he is losing ground here in Wisconsin.
This state is classified as a swing state, currently, and for good reason. Prior to election season, polls were relatively split by less than 3% in April.
Now, the President is trying to win back lost ground late in the game. Prior to testing positive for COVID, Trump planned to hold a rally in Greenbay which would have been his fifth appearance here as he tries to garner swing votes that may save his hopes of winning the state. But currently, he is failing.
The reason for this failure is evident in the Trump campaign. It is because he is not trying to appeal to the people who do not approve of him. The campaign views those people as a lost cause, and for good reason.
He has burned his bridge with perhaps millions of Americans. They will not vote for him. End of conversation. Trump is not trying to win new followers, he’s still trying to secure his base. Appeasements such as the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett serve as an appeal to Middle America.
The irony is that his largest success is also his biggest failure. He has connected with millions of Americans, particularly blue-collar workers, but in doing so, he lost almost as many supporters as he gained. His brash attempts at humor created the sense that he was an average Joe, just another guy. Those same appeals to his base alienate many moderate voters who may consider his words as offensive or divisive.
That is why his current approach of going out on stage and playing the hits is not exactly winning voters. They have seen it before, and if they were not won by it last time, they have become outright militant against his cult of personality, and they are set in stone.
So, Trump will continue to try for a rally of voters in Wisconsin, and he will continue to make jokes about “sleepy Joe,” or fake news. It is the same reason why Bon Jovi will play “Livin’ on a Prayer,” or why Andrew Dice Clay will do rhymes during his act. It is because people expect it and want it. The fans want what they know him for.
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For better or for worse, Trump is an entertainer. He entertains and enthralls millions, but his persona is equally derisive, and a bit repetitive. You either love him or you hate him, and his unique brand of politics is not made for swinging those from the other side, and that is why he is continually losing ground here in Wisconsin.
Voting, however, is the single most important facet of a republic. It is a privilege many in history have not shared. So please, go out and vote this year. It is a privilege, not always a right predicated on birth. So exercise your privilege. We, as students, are charged with the future of this country, so safeguard it.
If you support Trump, please go out and vote for him. If you support Biden, please go out and vote for him. Most importantly, and I admit it is a bit repetitive, vote in terms of your conscience.
Ian-Michael Griffin ([email protected]) is a freshman majoring in political science and journalism.