The way Donald Trump gives words to what people are thinking may partly explain his popularity.
When we see how Donald Trump gives Ted Cruz a hard time by referring to him as “Lyin’,” it is easy to be angered. But if Trump does win the nomination, and then goes up against Hillary, this ability to frame an opposing candidate may not be so enraging to conservatives.
In this Associated Press clip, Donald Trump gives the Democratic front runner the name, “Crooked Hillary Clinton.”
The Washington Post has already attempted damage control, pointing out that “crooked Hillary Clinton” is no new strategy from the candidate. It will work “in the same way that Marco Rubio became ‘Little Marco’ and Ted Cruz has been ‘Lying Ted.’”
In doling out these simple nicknames, Trump appeals to that human instinct to categorize and label as a way to have stability and certainty.
In 2011, Jeremy Sherman, an epistemologist, described this Trump attacks as a sort of “taxonomy, identifying what subspecies of winner and loser people are.” He said it was a symptom of what he called, “nounism,” a way to describe something or someone in a way that is an absolute. A chair is a chair. It’s not chair-ly, or chair-ish. In the same way, Trump has defined Hillary as crooked not her actions or her behavior, but her.
If Sherman’s insight is used for understanding Trump’s attack on Ted Cruz, I would agree with it. But it won’t work with Hillary Clinton for the simple reason that Clinton is criminal and everyone knows it. If she is not indicted for her email crimes, it will only be because the Democrats want her as President and think she has the best shot.
But a large part of the populace is not going to be swayed by media posturing. You can’t describe someone’s actions or behavior as criminal without saying something about the person.
The way Donald Trump campaigns is precisely why some people think he has a shot against Hillary, despite the polls showing otherwise.