You might have found yourself wincing when one of the presidential debates you were following on television or your laptop turned into a shouting match, but I’ll bet that you didn’t turn it off in favor of binge-watching “Seinfeld” re-runs.
It’s why most people tap their brakes when they pass a traffic accident on the interstate or circle around to watch a food fight in the school cafeteria.
It isn’t every election cycle that we get presidential candidates bragging about their penis sizes. In fact, the language coming from the candidates, especially on the Republican side, does represent a change from the norm. It’s not just the aggressive language passing through the lips of Donald Trump and challengers Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio (since gone from the race) that makes the 2016 race different.
The candidates, both during campaign speeches and debates, are wooing potential voters by using language intended to be understood by children in grades 6 to 8, with Trump aiming even lower. Language experts study both candidates’ vocabularies, repetition of words and phrases, and complexity of sentence structure to determine how high (or low) a candidate reaches.
Forget for a moment whether or not you believe Trump would be a great president or a perfect disaster. As a candidate, he has managed to connect with a sizable portion of the electorate precisely because he keeps his messaging simple (remember, that Trump has been a successful reality television star).
He is the candidate most likely to say “win” instead of “succeed” and refer to a “deal” rather than an “agreement.” Like him or not, people understand what he’s saying, even when he isn’t saying much.
There’s something in that for all of us looking to be heard and understood. Use simple, direct language and avoid the sort of worn-out jargon that makes so much of what we hear or read dull and easy to ignore. And when things get dull, you can always start talking about the size of your opponent’s hands…or other appendages.
— BOB UNGER