Excerpt from: Washington Post
Donald Trump’s ‘Captain Underpants’ Campaign
By Dana Milbank, Washington Post Opinion writer, February 26, 2016
Have you completed the third grade?
If so, this may be why you are having trouble understanding the appeal of Donald Trump.
At Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate, Ben Carson delivered an opening statement about “the abyss of destruction.” An analysis shows he was communicating at the level of a 10th-grader’s comprehension. Marco Rubio, who spoke of “the identity of America in the 21st century,” was also at the high school level. Ted Cruz and John Kasich were at middle school comprehension levels.
And then there was Trump — at a third-grade level:
“We don’t win anymore. . . . We’re going to make a great country again. We’re going to start winning again. We’re going to win a lot. It’s going to be a big difference, believe me.”
This was no anomaly. Some noticed Trump’s peculiarly prosaic prose early in the campaign, but it has become even more pronounced: Simple words. Simple sentences. Simple concepts.
See Donald. See Donald run. See Donald win.
This would appear to confirm polling that indicates Trump draws much of his support from less-educated Americans; “I love the poorly educated,” he said after his Nevada victory this week. This doesn’t mean all Trump supporters are dumb. But he is communicating — deliberately, surely — at a much more rudimentary level than any other candidate in either party.
“He says five things,” Rubio taunted Thursday night. “Everyone’s dumb, he’s gonna make America great again, we’re going to win, win, win, he’s winning in the polls . . .”
But, on some primal level, it works. Americans — particularly those who are angry and anxious, as Trump’s followers are — wish to be told that they will be okay, that there are simple answers. There is an obvious appeal to Trump’s declarative statement on the Middle East — “I am totally pro-Israel” — rather than Cruz’s Princetonian version: “The notion of neutrality is based upon the left buying into this moral relativism that is often pitched in the media.”
One language gauge, the Flesch-Kincaid grade-level index, measures sophistication by syllables per word and words per sentence. This is meant for written language, but applied to campaign speeches and debates, it gives a rough sense of the relative levels of candidates’ rhetoric.
In speeches the night of the South Carolina primary, Cruz was at a ninth-grade level, Rubio at an eighth-grade level — and Trump at a fifth-grade level. In speeches after the Nevada caucuses, Cruz and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders were at a ninth-grade level, Hillary Clinton was at seventh-grade. And Trump? Second-grade:
“We love Nevada.”
“We will be celebrating for a long time tonight. Have a good time.”
“Soon the country is going to start winning, winning, winning.”
“Now we’re going to get greedy for the United States. We’re going to grab and grab and grab.”
“We’re going to bring in so much money and so much everything.”
“We’re going to build the wall. You know that. Going to build the wall.”
“You’re going to be proud of your president. And you’re going to be even prouder of your country. Okay?”
This is campaigning at the level of Captain Underpants, Geronimo Stilton and Rainbow Magic fairies. And it appears to be more effective among this season’s Republican voters than, say, Carson, who spoke Thursday night about selecting judges by “the fruit salad of their life.”
By contrast, there is no puzzling over Trump’s meaning when he calls Cruz a “crazy zealot” or tells Rubio, “You don’t know a thing about business — you lose on everything.” Trump, asked for details of his budget plan, said, “We will cut so much your head will spin.” His response to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt when pressed at the debate about releasing tax returns: “First of all, very few people listen to your radio show — that’s the good news.”
Trump only rarely left the primary grades the entire debate. On illegal immigration, he was in fifth grade. His views on Mitt Romney and on polling of Hispanics: fourth grade. His record as an employer? Third grade. Through it all, his vocabulary would have suited Dr. Seuss: “They will go out. They will come back. Some will come back. . . . The wall just got 10 feet taller. . . . We’re going to make many cuts. . . . We’re going to get rid of so many different things.”
And he ended where he began — in third grade. “I will get it done,” he said. “Politicians will never, ever get it done. And we will make America great again. Thank you.”
Win, Donald, win. Grab, Donald, grab. See Donald make America great again.
Trumpty Dumbty built a Great Wall
He made the Mexicans pay for it all
All the Mexican women
And Mexican men
Will never trust Trumpty ever again.
Trumpty Dumbty sat on the ground
He insulted all who were gathered around
He insulted the Pope
but quoted Corinthians 2
So you know he’s a Christian just like you
He insulted Muslims, Fox News and disabled too.
Trumpty Dumbty counted to ten
But borrowed more money
Than he could pay back then
So Trumpty filed bankruptcy
again and again and again, again.
A 9th-grade civics assignment:
1. Read Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s statement: ““We don’t win anymore. . . . We’re going to make a great country again. We’re going to start winning again. We’re going to win a lot. It’s going to be a big difference, believe me.”
2. Read Republican President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
3. Compare and contrast.
Speaking at a 3rd grade level with short words and simple phrases allows Mr. Trump’s listeners to do what is absolutely essential to his listeners and the many RahRah posters here do constantly — it lets them project what THEY want most, what’s in their heart — into Trumps speeches. Do you really hate those damn immigrants? THAT’S what you’ll hear foremost in his speech. Angry and scared of the handful of Muslim terrorists that have been found here? THAT’S what you hear in his speech. Wall Street? YEAH! Think building a tall wall will work? Don’t think too long — Just Say Yeah! The listeners fill in the blanks. He’ll return good jobs to your town? Don’t ask how just shout YEAH!
For at least a generation the GOP has recruited the angry, uneducated and feeble minded via Fox News and AM radio. It then built an artificial reality for these goobs where, among other things, Obama is a Muslim intent on implementing Sharia Law, Jade Helm will invade Texas, science is an evil conspiracy, the economy is in ruins, the unemployment figures exceed those of the great depression, Hillary Clinton is minutes away from indictment, Obama was born in Kenya, etc.
The GOP would then get the votes of these suckers by promising to act on the silly wedge issues in this artificial reality.