Our words have the power to destroy and the power to build up (Proverbs 12:6).
I volunteer to tutor refugees. These individuals have escaped unspeakable horrors and are learning English. Working alongside these kind, hard-working adults has taught me how blessed we are to live in America. Mr. Trump has created his own language to describe America, Trumpism. Mr. Trump’s own description of Trumpism: “I know words, I have the best words but there is no better word than “stupid”. Words most frequently used by Mr. Trump: win, stupid, weak, loser, moron, politically correctness, smart, tough, dangerous, bad, lightweight, amazing, huge, tremendous, terrific, zero, out of control, classy.
Listeners know when we hear Mr. Trump that his terminology is slightly off but those of us who grew up in the U.S. intuitively understand what he is saying. I challenge you to think about what you would think if you and your family had just escaped extreme violence half way across the world for sanctuary in the United States and you heard Mr. Trump describe America. Below is a short list of Trumpisms. There is no attempt to capture all of his misused words or to provide citations. Rather, I want to capture the essence of his language.
Trumpism: Words made up by Mr. Donald Trump in his run for President of United States in 2016. Mr. Trump has a vast, original lexicon which creates sweeping indictments and vicious mental pictures using just a couple of words or phrases. Some of his words are spoken; others have been tweeted in the wee hours of the morning. Trumpism could also be considered Mr. Trump’s political platform. Trumpism pushes nativism (foreigners are suspect) and populism (giving power to the people rather than political elites). Through twitter and his speeches, Mr. Trump has created a mish-mash of images of America as a dark, dangerous place in deep economic decline. Mr. Trump’s America needs saving. His slogan is “Make America Great Again” as if returning to the past is a positive. His primary policy proposals are deporting illegal immigrants, tightening and/or stopping future immigration of certain groups particularly Muslims, emphasizing that foreign individuals living in America commit the majority of violent crimes particularly rape and robbery while taking away American jobs. Trumpism’s primary focus is that Muslim refugees are terrorist infidels, illegal Mexicans are criminals and global trade has crippled America.
The Wall: Mr. Trump’s proposal to have Mexico pay for a wall dividing Mexico and the United States with the intention of stopping Mexicans from illegally entering the U.S. Mr. Trump estimates the wall will cost $5 billion dollars. He promises the entire cost will be paid for by the Mexican Government. The Mexican President has refused to pay for the wall in a tweet. Tweeting seems to be the primary form of policy development in this election year. Mr. Trump sees the wall as a beautiful thing with a door right in the middle for legal Mexicans to be welcomed to America.
Bad Hombre: Uncomplimentary reference to undocumented Mexicans living in America. Hombre is Spanish for man. Trump used the reference to reinforce his vision of increasing hordes of criminals illegally crossing the Mexican border. In fact, the Pew Research Center documents that the number of illegal Mexicans coming into the U.S. has stabilized in recent years and declined by about 1 million since 2007. About 2/3 of all illegal immigrants have lived in the U.S. for a decade or more. About half of immigrants coming into the U.S. are women. There are 5000 children in foster care whose parents have been detained or deported by U.S. immigration authorities. This figure is estimated to rise to 15,000 children over the next five years because of tightening immigration policies. These women and children have not been part of any policy discussion during this presidential season.
Nasty Woman: Mr. Trump’s description of Mrs. Clinton at the 3rd and final debate. He uttered it to interrupt Mrs. Clinton presentation on Social Security. His intent was appeal to the old boys club where powerful women are seen as unpleasant and pushy and frequently described in private as “bitches”. In this case, Mr. Trump’s effort to belittle women led to a social media backlash from women who saw Trump’s remark as sexist rather than as descriptive of Mrs. Clinton’s temperament. As a young professional woman in the seventies, I can attest that smart, ambitious women were not described in positive terms by their male coworkers. I am proud to be a Nasty Woman.
Miss Piggy: a revered children’s puppet on Sesame Street. Miss Piggy is a large female Pink Pig who dresses in extravagant outfits and frequently wears a crown. Most American’s know Miss Piggy. Mr. Trump referred to Miss Universe 1996, Alicia Machado, as Miss Piggy when she gained weight after winning the Miss Universe title. Using Miss Piggy as a descriptor is a classic example of Mr. Trump’s skill at choosing short phrases to create a lasting image.
Miss Housekeeping: Another term, coined by Mr. Trump, to describe Ms. Machado, who represented Venezuela in the Miss Universe Pageant. This image is premised on Latino women largely serving in housekeeping positions in the U.S. This nickname can be seen as a sexist slur against Latino women and as slamming hard work done by many Americans who are surviving on pay below a living wage. Nationally, unauthorized workers compose 23% of all domestic workers.
Locker Room Banter: Mr. Trump’s justification of the conversation he was having with Billy Bush prior to an appearance on Access Hollywood in 2005. In the recorded encounter, Mr. Trump used extremely vulgar terms to describe women and what he would do to them. When the tape was released, Mr. Trump defended the conversation as the kind of talk that routinely goes own in all male places such as locker rooms. My husband played college basketball and when I asked him about it, he responded that young guys might not use the best language but this is an example of a 60 year old man (at the time) who could be expected to have outgrown the titillation of talking dirty. Billy Bush was relieved of his position on Good Morning America for his role both in the conversation and for not bringing the tape to light sooner.
Bigly: Frequently used by Mr. Trump to describe an idea or policy which is large in scope. Bigly is an adverb and Mr. Trump has used it correctly. On questioning, Mr. Trump’s staff clarified that Mr. Trump is not saying “bigly”. He is instead saying, “Big League.” Here is an example from an actual speech: Donald Trump has said, “Iran is taking over Iraq and they’re taking it over bigly.” According to staff this is incorrect reporting. Instead, Mr. Trump said, “Iran is taking over Iraq and they’re taking it over Big League.” I personally think bigly is easier to understand in the contexts he uses it. Either term gives us the idea, that this is something big.
Extreme Vetting: Mr. Trump’s proposal to conduct ideological screening of new arrivals from countries with a history of terror (specific countries are unspecified). Mr. Trump had previously said he would ban all Muslims from coming into the country. This proposal would allow in some individuals. However, all individuals from countries harboring terrorists would be banned from the U.S. until this new screening test was designed and in place. The U.S. already has extremely rigorous screening approaches in place sometimes taking many years. In addition, it is difficult to assess an individual’s most innermost beliefs and private opinions. In a country that values free speech, this proposal may be difficult or impossible to implement. Finally, individuals from other countries are less likely to engage in violence than native born Americans.
Yuuuge: Mr. Trump’s unique way of saying huge.
Braggadocios: A braggart who boasts so much about themselves that they become annoying to their audience. The term was commonly used in the 19th century. The word is so seldom used in the 21st century, braggadocios is not considered part of our common vocabulary. Mr. Trump, who usually says he does not want to seem braggadocios, has breathed life back into this word.
Birther Movement: People who question of the legitimacy of President Obama’s birth certificate. Starting in 2011, Mr. Trump persistently demanded to see President Obama’s birth certificate to demonstrate that Obama was born in the United States as required by the U.S. Constitution. Recently, Mr. Trump has said he believes Mr. Trump was born in the United States.
Speaking Mexican: Reference to Jeb Bush in a tweet. Mr. Trump means that Mr. Bush is fluent in Spanish, something Mr. Trump obviously is not.
Taking the Shackles Off: A twitter comment on Mr. Trump’s revised strategic campaign breaking free from the traditional Republic platform and policy. Trump’s new approach was the result of some Republicans disavowing their support of Trump in the wake of NBC sex tape. This announcement was followed by a stream of tweets filled with rage and resentment towards traditional politicians.
Rigged Elections: As political polls have begun indicating that Mr. Trump might lose, Trump has become more strident in his claims that the media and the Democratic machine are rigging the election. Mr. Trump has said he would accept the election results if he won. However, when questioned during the third debate, he refused to confirm that he would accept the results. The charge of rigged elections is at the very heart of the U.S. democracy where for centuries Americans have cast their votes and lived with the results. Mr. Trump’s charge also suggests he is not familiar with the structure of U.S. elections. Elections (even for national candidates such as Congress and the President) are under the control of the states. Forty-seven of the fifty states and the Puerto Rico have a Secretary of State position. The primary duty of this individual is to serve as the chief election officer for the state. In the three states without a Secretary of State, the responsibility for elections falls to the Lieutenant Governor. Given the diffuse structure of elections in the U.S. it would be difficult to rig the outcome nationally. As we know from the 2000 Bush/Gore Presidential election, the role of the Secretary of State in a close election can be very important. Former Vice President Gore received about 540,000 more popular votes than Bush across the nation. In Gore’s presidential run, the Florida Secretary of State, Republican Katherine Harris certified that Bush had won the popular vote in Florida. Her decision was confirmed by the United States Supreme Court on a 5 to 4 decision preventing a recount of key precincts in Florida. Former Vice President Gore honored the decision and has been largely invisible on the national stage since.
Gloria Steinman told a sold out crowd in Boise on October 17, 2016 that the right to vote is what makes America great. People have fought hard and lost lives for each of us to have the equal opportunity to weigh in on America’s future. The America of 2016 is far more expansive and inclusive than our forefathers envisioned. We are a nation where each of us can vote regardless of race, religion or gender.
The refugees I work with fled totalitarian and military reigns with the hope of becoming Americans and gaining the right to vote. Hidden in Trump’s mangled phrases is the clear threat to equal opportunity. Isolationism doesn’t create greatness but it does breed fear. I am yuugely hoping that Americans in bigly numbers will not pick a braggadocios birther, who engages regularly in unseemly locker room banter demeaning women, for their next president.