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Don’t Equate Trump’s Linguistic Mistakes With Stupidity

Don’t Equate Trump’s Linguistic Mistakes With Stupidity

Mandy Pipher

I don’t know about you, but one of the ways I’ve been coping with the Trumpian horror-show to the south is watching late-night American comedy. A regular dose of the acerbic and principled witticisms of Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, and Samantha Bee helps release some of the terrifying tension doled out daily by President Trump & Co.

No one is insulting Trump just for being ignorant of grammar or spelling. It’s for his willful and public ignorance, when he claims to be so damn smart–and God knows he can afford to do better. There are plenty of intelligent and literate Americans without Ivy League credentials who are struggling to pay their bills, while he tweets his way to infamy. His presence in the White House is an insult to them.


Actually, yes, many are doing exactly that, in their smug—possibly even justified—superiority, but the author has a valid point: we need to find ways to help his base understand that he’s NOT on their side. Your last sentence indicates that you understand this.


I think Trump has two type of supporters. The main type I think are racists and the other type is the type that this article makes an important point about. The racists like the neo-Nazis and other white supremacist portray themselves as victims. They claim that they are marginalized and cannot speak freely, blaming political correctness. Trump’s other main group (and I believe there is a lot of overlap) feel they are looked down upon because they don’t have the right academic pedigree. I think people on the left need to find a way to not convey an image that they are superior to these less educated people who generally live in rural areas. I think Trump has average intelligence. After high school he went to Fordham which must have been much easier to get into then today. Then his father through a friend got him into Penn. He certainly did not belong in Penn in an academic sense but somehow he graduated from the business school, Wharton, which I think will never be adequately explained.

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Yes, the sneering is silly and counterproductive, but it seems to me a mistake to imagine converting the intensely tribalistic Trump base, which has the character of a fanatical cult. We need to get the friendlies and potential friendlies to the polls. We’ve got the numbers; we have to make them count.

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We need to get the friendlies and potential friendlies to the polls. We’ve got the numbers; we have to make them count.

And to do that, you need to have a coherent, positive message. I don’t see that coming from the Democrats.

Simply railing against Trump is not a rallying cry for positive change.


Yes, as Madame Secretary Clinton recently discovered.

Or maybe not. I’ve heard more than one anecdote about Trump voters expressing buyer’s remorse. Anything that we can do to separate the die-hard racist/misogynist/xenophobes from those who were simply (and justifiably) appalled by the Clintons will be to the benefit of all. Refraining from sneering seems a small price to pay.


I’m sorry but at the root of the problem is the lack of education that allowed those folks, his backers, to get him elected. At their core they are not smart. Not smart enough to know when someone is lying to their face, …and that isn’t book smarts. That takes a deeper level of contemplation than wrote memorization of math rules or poems for English class! Those folks don’t have the capacity, and that is exactly how the republicans want them.

Your point is accurate, that honing in on their poor grammatical or spelling capacity doesn’t make inroads with them, and that ad hominem attacks are counter productive at converting someone to your side in an argument. However, my point is that one in such a situation should seriously consider wasting their time further in conversing with the challenged person.

Case in point: Listening to NPR lately has become such a chore because of their excessive use of improper grammar. It doesn’t inform the listener or improve their story when they: “so-and-so, he…” or “so-and-so, she…” and it indicates a lack of rigor, as do the spelling mistakes. (Assuming they’re not created by fat fingers on the infernally tiny smart phone keyboards, or by the stupid phones themselves thinking they know what word we meant better than we the authors and go changing it, …much to our surprise, after posting!).

A lack of rigor in communication, and by extension, …in thought. The interviewers never ask the really difficult questions that being better informed would enable. They don’t exercise the rigor to seek out the progressive position and the idiotic regressive position. They allow opinion to be spoken unchallenged. My indictment is that they never seem to have a command of any subject enough to challenge statements made by their interviewees.

Hi LRX, I believe a minor correction is needed to make your excellent post fully accurate. That is that Trump graduated from Penn’s underdraduate program, and Not the Wharton College. It’s like anyone of the University of Arizona undergrads telling everyone they graduated from the Eller College of Business out here, when in fact that is only a graduate degree program. Wharton and Penn are connected, as are the U of A and Eller, however anyone with only an undergrad degree should never be claiming they graduated from the more prestigious program, or they should be called on it, the same as anyone padding their scholastic marks or work experience on their resume.

Thanks, (I was about to point out the same thing re: Trump). Years ago, in graduate school (I was teaching English, and working toward my M.ED.), I remember writing a paper titled “English Below the Salt,” because it caused a LOT of discussion in class. It said basically the same thing as Pipher’s article, if less well. Even then, many parents of my students resented the idea that they might be “dumber” than a teacher because they had less education. They certainly didn’t want their kids correcting their English, and this resulted in more of the students resenting their teachers trying to correct their grammar in class. A small thing that had a big impact on attitudes toward learning.