Changing norms in USA political debates

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.


Meanwhile, his supporters say they believe his line that he’s not responsible for extreme rhetoric in politics or a sense of division in American life. A new Morning Consult/Politico poll found that 80 percent of Republicans agree with Trump’s recent claim that the national media has done more to divide than unite the country since Trump took office.

Trump himself has refused to take any responsibility for his language, particularly at rallies where crowds jeer immigrants, Democrats, and other Trump dissenters. “Well, I think I’ve been toned down, if you want to know the truth. I could really tone it up,” Trump said during the week that prominent Democrats he had attacked were being sent bombs in the mail. The day FBI agents arrested a suspect, one of Trump’s crowds chanted, “Lock her up,” in response to a reference to Hillary Clinton.

In a moment of presumably accidental candor, Trump did concede he often says what he wants, whether or not it’s true. “Well, I try. I do try … and I always want to tell the truth. When I can, I tell the truth,” Trump said.

“The president’s rhetoric has helped to shift discourse norms in our country such that it is more acceptable among more people to denigrate and attack other groups of human beings,” Susan Benesch, the director of Dangerous Speech Project, told the Washington Post. “People feel emboldened to chant those things publicly, which is a specific example of a shift in public discourse in the country.”

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