Single-syllable words have taken the oval office by storm – and America is suffering.
In fact, President Donald Trump uses fewer multi-syllable words and less unique words than any other president in history, according to Newsweek. He is currently communicating with the United States, and the rest of the world, at a fourth-grade level.
Whether you think this political strategy is “brilliant,” or “sad,” the effect it is having on the globe is clearly catastrophic.
There is incredible power over policy as the president. Trump is using rhetorical strategies such as humbug, or using repeated words or phrases (“[America] is a mess. I inherited a mess.”); antonomasia, or substituting a proper name for a nickname (Crooked Hillary); and ad populum, or stating something is true because it is the majority opinion, to influence the populations’ beliefs.
As a country that elected a president speaking at a fourth-grade level, these policies are most likely not going to be very progressive – especially when it comes to education.
Rebecca Kuehl from the Southern Communication Journal state, “… an emphasis on individual accountability and personal responsibility continues to shape education reform and public policy across partisan lines.”
The lack of intellectual terminology also lowers expectations for the general public, which makes it easier to turn away from education and proper grammar rules.
Sheldon Turner for the New York Times explains, “It all creates a self-fulfilling prophecy wherein the belief in the existence of an obtuse audience actually creates one.”
In fact, this effect is already underway. Only 10% of the United States is regarded as superior or above-average intelligence while 70% possess an intelligence level of only average or below.
Some may argue that this dumbing-down has made policy and confusing legislation more accessible to the majority of the population; however, I hope to live in a world where education is so accessible that the President of the United States, the leader of the free world, the commander in chief, doesn’t have to talk down to me.
Therefore, we should expect those in the public sphere – especially those in government, such as the president – to communicate through intellectual rhetoric that simulates and enhances United States citizens instead of requiring them to “dumb down” to earn political points.