Trump Tweet Breakdown: How The President Uses Absolute Language [Opinion]

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It’s important to understand that Donald Trump is attempting to communicate less with the whole of the American people and more with his own base. Believe it or not, Donald Trump does have a writing style, as demonstrated by his tweets.

Trump writes in terms of absolutes. Something is either this, or that. It’s rare for Trump to include a gray area when discussing his stances. This method of expressing himself in terms black and white often causes Trump to be regarded by liberals as unintelligent.

However, upon a closer look, Trump reveals himself as calculated. With leaving little room for compromise, Donald Trump puts the subject of his tweet on the spot, making them feel a need to respond.

If you don’t do X, it must mean you don’t like Americans.

The subject can either respond defensively and thereby play the game, accepting the absolute terms as laid out by the president.

Alternatively, they can respond amicably, asserting that while this is something they did, it’s not because they hate Americans, but for some other reason. This allows Trump to pull out the magic word “excuse.” At this point, Trump’s opponent appears weak.

A third option is to not respond at all. This allows Trump and his base to come to whatever conclusions they so choose.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 29: U.S. President Donald Trump (R) speaks as LaSonya Hill (R) of Jacksonville, Florida, looks on during an event at the East Room of the White House June 29, 2018 in Washington, DC. Trump held the event for Òcelebrating the six month anniversary of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.Ó (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)Featured image credit: Alex WongGetty Images

Furthermore, to his base, Trump’s rigidity allows him to appear strong. He speaks in declarative sentences and asks questions which often suppose their own answer.

Trump recently tweeted about Harley-Davidson.


Let’s break this down.

“Harley-Davidson should stay 100% in America.”

This is an obvious absolute. Isn’t it better to keep some labor in the United States, even if profit losses do indicate some outsourcing may be necessary? While it may be better to have 100 percent in the U.S., is there no room for any deviation whatsoever? Perhaps some jobs can go overseas, while others remain here.

“…with the people that got you your success.”

Here, Trump simultaneously devalues the company, while making the American people feel exclusive responsibility for Harley-Davidson’s success. Harley-Davidson does make a large percentage of their sales to other countries, believe it or not. But another question remains. Did the American people actively decide they specifically wanted Harley-Davidson to be the brand synonymous with motorcycles? Or did Harley-Davidson convince the American people that Harley-Davidson was the brand synonymous with motorcycles through image, design, and advertising?

“I’ve done so much for you, and then this.”

This is more absolutism, but it’s also a blatant show of Trump believing companies are beholden to him for his “help.” Not everything is personal. A businessman of all people should understand this, shouldn’t they?

“Other companies are coming back where they belong!”

This may be the most absolutist statement of the tweet, as Trump ascribes Harley-Davidson to other companies, but which other companies? Motorcycle companies? Food companies? Marvel? There are a lot of companies in the U.S. and indeed the world. Trump can’t possibly know the business needs of Harley-Davidson on more than a superficial level, and he certainly can’t know how it compares to the needs of other companies.

“We won’t forget, and neither will your customers or your now very HAPPY competitors!”

This descends the tweet into a threat. It suggests that if Harley-Davison doesn’t do things Trump’s way, they will fail, the American people will turn their backs on them forevermore, and other motorcycle companies will succeed. Trump warns Harley-Davidson that they will appear weak.

Those on the left will be unswayed, but Trump’s base will likely see it as Trump remaining unwavering and strong, holding feet to the fire and winning the day.

The truth of the matter is that Trump’s tweet redirects blame to Harley-Davidson as traitors, to take attention away from Trump’s trade plan, which so far appears to be failing. Vox reported an entire story about it. In fact, Trump put the tariffs in place that caused a response from the European Union to levee their own tariffs against imported motorcycles. Harley-Davidson’s move is a direct result of foreign policy from the Trump administration.