The brand-new American President Donald Trump delivered his inaugural speech on 20 January. There was little sign of conciliation, but many signs of strong persuasion technique.
'From a psychological perspective, the crucial sentence in Trump's inaugural speech was: This American carnage stops right here and stops right now. That was how he won the election, by fueling fear and presenting himself as the solution, or even the saviour. Fear is our most powerful emotion. Any politician who manages to reinforce this emotion increases the likelihood that - whether they are aware of it or not - people will look for a strong leader, and care less about such issues as glass ceilings.
In spite of the fact that in all kinds of perspectives America is in a better state than eight years ago, Trump has managed to convince enough people of his doom scenario and conspiracy theories. Now he starts mitigating the fear: There should be no fear – we are protected, and we will always be protected. This sentence also has to be understood in the context of the following statement: …radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely…. There's not a single expert who believes this is possible. Hardly anyone who heard it believed that Trump believed it himself. Isn't it dangerous, making such an important promise that you can't keep? What's more important here than the literal message is the 'meta-message': your safety is my top priority. Trump the salesman. When the electorate is anxious, what gets through to them is the meta-message.'
Read more opinions of Leiden academics on "No moderation in tone at Trump's inauguration"