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Donald Trump Capitalizes On Similarity To Founding Fathers

[ Posted Tuesday, April 24th, 2018 – 16:47 UTC ]

That is a rather bizarre headline, as is any sentence with both "Donald Trump" and "our Founding Fathers" in it, really. But then I'm in a rather bizarre mood today, waiting for some election results which may turn out to be rather good news even if (as expected) the Democrat loses. Plus, I've been saving this subject for a slow day, which turned out to be today.

Before I dig into the main subject, though, a quick note on that election seems necessary. Arizona's 8th congressional district is up for grabs tonight, due to yet another Republican House member who had to step down in disgrace over sexual misconduct in the office. This is a district that Trump won by more than 20 points, so it really shouldn't even be close. But it is. The odds are still heavily against the Democratic candidate, but that the race is even close is sending shivers down the spines of astute Republicans everywhere. So the margin of victory will be important even if the Republican wins. If the margin of victory for the Republican candidate is five points or less, it will send almost as loud a warning signal to the GOP as if the Democrat actually wins. So it'll be interesting to see what happens, even if the Democrats don't pull off a spectacular upset.

But I digress. Getting back to the subject at hand, I've been noticing for a while now that Donald Trump seems to be channeling his inner Founding Father in one particular way. See if you can spot it from the examples below. Hint: you don't even need to read every word, just skimming them should be sufficient. First, a few of Trump's most recent tweets:


  • Despite the Democrat inspired laws on Sanctuary Cities and the Border being so bad and one sided, I have instructed the Secretary of Homeland Security not to let these large Caravans of people into our Country. It is a disgrace. We are the only Country in the World so naive! WALL
  • James Comey’s Memos are Classified, I did not Declassify them. They belong to our Government! Therefore, he broke the law! Additionally, he totally made up many of the things he said I said, and he is already a proven liar and leaker. Where are Memos on Clinton, Lynch & others?
  • President Xi and I will always be friends, no matter what happens with our dispute on trade. China will take down its Trade Barriers because it is the right thing to do. Taxes will become Reciprocal & a deal will be made on Intellectual Property. Great future for both countries!

OK, now let's compare that to a few phrases from the United States Constitution, as originally written:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

That's a memorable excerpt, so let's have an example that's a bit more dense and less-quoted:

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate.

And finally, a famous sentence from the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness -- That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Spot the similarity? It's not something you'll see on a second or even third glance. Reading the text closely isn't what is needed, just a broad, first-glance overview. Or, as Donald Trump or our Founding Fathers might have written it: "Reading the Text closely isn't what is Needed, just a broad, first-glance Overview."

Now this article's punny headline becomes clear. Trump capitalizes as if he's living in 18th-century America. Random nouns and, at times, verbs are given the honor of being capitalized, with no apparent rhyme or reason. Anything that Trump feels strongly about gets this honor, willy-nilly. Things he strongly likes or dislikes get capitalized regularly, with additional capitalizations thrown in where Trump feels the urge (on things like Country, World, Government, Intellectual Property).

Some of Trump's wild capitalizations could almost be considered semi-correct grammatically, as the use of a stylistic flair to bestow a status on a noun that it doesn't properly deserve (such as "Fake News") in condescending fashion. It's not just fake news, it's Fake News -- giving it the same ironic status as an actual news network (like the capitalization of Fox News, for instance). Some of Trump's capitalizations are actually correct, when he dubs an opponent with a snarky nickname (such as Crooked Hillary or Lyin' Ted Cruz), as all parts of someone's name (even made-up) are supposed to be capitalized (as when I used to regularly write Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin, for instance).

But for the most part, Trump is not following grammar rules that have been in existence his whole life -- rules which were in place before he learned them in school a long, long time ago, in other words. Nouns aren't capitalized just because they sound important, there are solid rules for what may be correctly capitalized and what may not. Some of these rules are open to interpretation or stylistic choice (such as how I routinely capitalize Earth when most don't, as in: "Who on Earth still capitalizes in such fashion?" -- my personal editorial rule of thumb is to "capitalize the names of planets," so: Mars, Earth, Venus, etc.). Furthermore, in Washington job titles are routinely capitalized in official documents (such as "the President will address Senators and Representatives in a meeting today"), but most newspapers don't capitalize words like senator, representative, secretary, or even president when used in such a fashion. But other than these few quirks, most capitalization rules are pretty firmly set in stone at this late date. And times have definitely changed since the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were put to paper.

Trump's tweets are a throwback to the times of the Founding Fathers. What amuses me personally is that you can pretty easily tell which Trump tweets have either been vetted or actually written by some aide, and which were thumbed by Trump himself, just by looking for the random capitalization. If it's there, it's an authentic Trump tweet. If not, it probably was prepared by some flunky (who knows how to properly capitalize and spell and suchlike).

The anomaly of Trump's bizarre capitalization isn't likely to set any sort of trend, except possibly on Twitter itself, where choices for text enhancement are limited. You can't directly tweet italics or bold text, so you're limited to either YELLING IN ALL CAPS or choosing the route Trump does -- Emphasizing Nouns with strange Capitalizations.

So while Trump's capitalization style will be a historic footnote (future historians will wonder why Trump's text style so closely resembles that of the Founding Fathers -- and hopefully they won't draw any wrong conclusions as a result), it likely won't be any more than that. The next president, no matter which party he or she may be from, will quite likely go back to using standard American English, even when tweeting.

In my personal opinion, Trump doesn't much resemble any of the Founding Fathers in any other way, I should clearly state that to avoid any possible confusion. But he does indeed have this one bizarre similarity to the leaders of the American Revolution. If it's important to Trump -- whether in approval or hatred -- then it gets capitalized. It's an easy way to identify when Trump himself is tweeting, rather than some nameless aide. Look for it as a sort of Trump Seal of Authenticity.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

29 Comments on “Donald Trump Capitalizes On Similarity To Founding Fathers”

  1. [1] 
    Paula wrote:

    I guess it is significant that the race in AZ is close vs. not close. But a win would be extra-special!

  2. [2] 
    Kick wrote:

    Arizona's 8th congressional district is up for grabs tonight, due to yet another Republican House member who had to step down in disgrace over sexual misconduct in the office.

    Sexual misconduct? You mean you don't think it's a perfectly reasonable request to offer multiple females in your employ a $5,000,000 paycheck to be a sexual surrogate and bear you a child? ;)

  3. [3] 
    Kick wrote:

    But he does indeed have this one bizarre similarity to the leaders of the American Revolution.

    You mean besides the fact that Benedict Donald is a modern-day Benedict Arnold and that he and his appointees, particularly one Michael "Misha" Flynn, will go down in history ever thusly? :)

  4. [4] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris

    #FU-IT'S YOUR TURN to STFU

  5. [5] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    OK, getting settled in to watch AZ-08 results.

    While I'm waiting, I'm going to catch up on answering some comments.

    -CW

  6. [6] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Looks like Arizona waits until everything's counted, then reports it all at once?

    Dunno, but everyone's called it for the Republican, with the margin at 5.8 percent. That's probably small enough that Dems can claim a moral victory, unless there are more votes to be counted and it changes later tonight.

    -CW

  7. [7] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    OK, have now answered comments back to Friday's column, for everyone's information...

    Wonder what the spin on AZ-08 will be tomorrow...

    GOP: We won! Whew!
    Dems: We improved 15 points in a deep red district. November's still looking good!

    That's my guess.

    -CW

  8. [8] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Actually, it's even more impressive:

    Republicans had been cautiously optimistic about prevailing in the 8th Congressional District where President Trump won by 21 percentage points in 2016 and Trent Franks, who resigned last year, had won by 37 points.

    So it went from a 37-point victory to less than a 6-point victory.

    -CW

  9. [9] 
    Kick wrote:

    More Election Results

    With 100% of precincts reporting, Steve Stern (D) has defeated Janet Smitelli (R) for a Suffolk County New York assembly seat. This flips a seat that had been GOP since 1978.

    40th statehouse flip... I think. :)

  10. [10] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris
    7

    Cute.

    I am nothing if not... cute.

    And in my opinion it's not only my turn to get a fucking answer- it's long overdue.

    It is long overdue that you "clued in" to the fact that you've received your (quoting you) "fucking answer."

    And it is also my opinion that your only opinion seems to be that I should not be able to express my opinion.

    This is simply a blatant lie on your part, Don. I have posted many opinions that have zero to do with you whatsoever; I have that in common with the author. :)

  11. [11] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Kick -

    I think you're right. If so, it means D's are up a net 36 seats, so far.

    More AZ results are trickling in. Seems like most people voted in advance, and now I think (?) they're counting today's voting? I dunno, that's just speculation...

    -CW

  12. [12] 
    Kick wrote:

    CW
    13

    I heard there are ~35,000 outstanding votes, and I also heard that the Democratic candidate is winning the "election day vote" 55% to 45%, which... assuming it's true... should cut that 6% lead to around 4%.

    Still a Republican victory but a really impressive showing for the Democrat in this deep-red district in AZ and should be the catalyst for at least a couple more Ryan-like "retirements." :)

  13. [13] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    @don,

    you've received a fecking answer. twice from our host, and many more fecking times from the rest of us. that answer is no, which also means fecking no. no matter whose campaign you attempt to emulate, in this case endless badgering of our host will not turn that no into a yes, it will just make people not fecking like you.

    JL

    Well there it is, your sister used the "F" word.

    I think she said "feck."

    What's the difference?

    The letter "u."

    ~almost famous

  14. [14] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    the question when it comes to elections is whether this "wave" ever actually materializes. in politics it's practically an eternity between now and november.

  15. [15] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Margin now down to 5.2%.

    I'd really like to see it end up under 5, just for the talking point aspect of it...

    -CW

  16. [16] 
    Michale wrote:

    Gotta love the spin on the AZ race.. :D

    PRE-RACE
    DEMOCRATS ARE GOING TO WIN AZ!!! THAT PROVES THAT PRESIDENT TRUMP IS TOAST!!!!

    POST-RACE
    DEMOCRATS WERE CLOSE IN AZ!!! THAT PROVES THAT PRESIDENT TRUMP IS TOAST!!!

    It's like 'god's will'... No matter WHAT happens, it can be spin'ed to be good for Democrats and bad for Republicans..

    Pure Kafka..... :D

  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Please watch your language, Don.

  18. [18] 
    neilm wrote:

    Another encouraging swing in AZ - this time 30 points!

    No Wonder paul ryan Ran away. I'm surprised he is even staying on as Speaker - or maybe he hopes That trump And pence Will get ejected and he will become President.

    I like this Random capitalization thiNg. i tHink i'll keep usinG it.

  19. [19] 
    neilm wrote:

    BTW, if anybody remembers their Molesworth books, they'll know who trump is ripping off with the strange capitalization:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigel_Molesworth

  20. [20] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris,

    Excellent title!

    Yeah, I noticed the capitalization Trump consistently uses but never really thought anything about it. I certainly had no thought that it was so much like how the founding fathers wrote.

    I'm pretty sure Trump doesn't realize that, either.

    Hopefully he won't pick up on this and we won't lose our ability to authenticate his tweets. I can't believe I just wrote that last bit.

  21. [21] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    @don,

    no means no. you're not entitled to the specific kind of answer you want, because you've made yourself the issue.

    one of the risks inherent in non-consensual political speech is that the population may come to regard you as more of a nuisance than the problem you're ostensibly trying to solve.

    JL

  22. [22] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    or in more concrete terms: if you sat your truck outside my house every day for hours on end blasting music, i would stop caring about the quality of your ice cream.

  23. [23] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    @don,
    Nobody forced you to spam the comment section of every post with solicitation for your cause. CW did respond to your issue twice, both times stating that he wasn't interested. His refusal to ban you for not accepting that answer isn't consent, it's tolerance.

  24. [24] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    neilm

    I'm guessing (maybe Noam Chomsky could verify) that the capitalization of most all of the nouns in the founder's documents is a legacy of the fact that old English started out as German, and the German's to this day capitalize all nouns.

    That doesn't explain Trump's weird usage, but then nothing rational explains Trump's anything.

  25. [25] 
    Kick wrote:

    Michale
    18

    Gotta love the spin on the AZ race.. :D

    The only "spin" I saw on that race was this typical comment of yours.

    PRE-RACE
    DEMOCRATS ARE GOING TO WIN AZ!!! THAT PROVES THAT PRESIDENT TRUMP IS TOAST!!!!

    POST-RACE
    DEMOCRATS WERE CLOSE IN AZ!!! THAT PROVES THAT PRESIDENT TRUMP IS TOAST!!!

    Nonsense. The spin here is all yours. Every story I saw about the special election in AZ-08 expected a loss but were hoping for a good showing.

    I guess it makes the AlwaysTrumpers feel better to lie and live in an alternate reality.

    It's like 'god's will'... No matter WHAT happens, it can be spin'ed to be good for Democrats and bad for Republicans..

    No, it's not anything like God's will at all; the only spin here is all yours. It's voters going to the polls and then the votes being counted... more like "of the people, by the people, for the people."

    Pure Kafka..... :D

    There is nothing bizarre, complex, or illogical about the overwhelming majority of political races; the candidate who receives the most votes wins. Whenever you see huge swings of an average of ~20 points in multiple races in one direction or the other, it's notable regardless of which way the pendulum swings... and it does always swing back. :)

  26. [26] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    As someone who has randomly Capitalized all my life, I must, reluctantly jump to the defense of this practice.

    And the source is Advertising, not the 18th century.

    It's even more fun when writing things out long-hand, which allows you to capitalize letters and randomly assign different styles to words and within words, like writing the words 'Sweet Jesus' in script for effect, followed by 'I've got to stop drinking so much COFFEE' in very tiny block letters.

    It tells me that, like another famous authoritarian who-must-not-be-named, Trump is also a frustrated Artist, wanting not only to change the world, but also to Decorate it in his particular way.

  27. [27] 
    neilm wrote:

    CRS [30]:

    I did not know that, I just assumed it was oldy-worldy stuff, like the somewhat random spelling. There are examples of writing from the past where the same word is spelled differently by the same writer in the same sentence. I have friends who would not be able to cope with the 18th Century on that basis alone.

  28. [28] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris
    19

    No, I did not get an answer. I got responses that were not about One Demand, but were instead about what CW or whoever was responding needed One Demand to be to fit the argument they wanted to make.

    You've received a multitude of answers from commenters and the author regarding your solicitation that are easily searchable. The issue has been beat to death on this blog ad nauseam, and the answers are archived herein and aren't going anywhere. Read them until they sink in, please, because they're not likely to change just because you changed the title of your failed venture.

    Of course, you would characterize me as a nuisance because the problem I am trying to solve includes providing another option for citizens that do not buy the Big Money Democrat bullshit that the Big Money Democrats have to take Big Money to compete with the Republicans, that they will not be corrupted by the Big Money and that citizens have to settle for not as bad as the Republicans because they have no other options.

    You're fooling only yourself if you honestly believe our complaints about your trolling/solicitation have anything whatsoever to do with our fear that your idea will reach the citizenry. Near everyone here has encouraged you to start your own website and blog and yammer away about it... somewhere else.

    As far as I know CW has consented to me commenting here.

    Trolling/solicitation and commenting on political topics are different things. You have your own website where you are attempting to sell your ideas. You should really start a blog on that website of yours where hopefully no one like you will troll you or attempt to hijack your website until you post to their satisfaction.

    No one here owes you a platform or an answer beyond what they've already given that you won't accept... so, yes, at this point it's all about you and your trolling/solicitation.

  29. [29] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    incidentally, you can tell which posts here i wrote on my phone, because unlike my computer i can't get it to stop auto-capitalizing.

    JL

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