•  
  •  
 

Abstract

dehumanization theory by tracking and comparing dehumanizing rhetoric used by all presidential candidates during the 2008, 2012, and 2016 campaigns. Using data hand-collected from all presidential speeches conducted during these periods, including accounting for ad-libbing by Donald Trump, I find that Trump was distinctive in his dehumanization of immigrants and refugees, far surpassing all other candidates. His language surrounding these groups focused heavily on (1) using nonhuman language to describe their actions and migrations, (2) assigning criminality and viciousness to immigrants, (3) repeating stories of the deaths of American citizens by immigrants, (4) saying that immigrants and refugees have values incongruent with Americans, and (5) emphasizing the idea that immigrants and refugees are a threat to the American way of life. Dehumanization is often used as justification for aggressive policies and behaviors, which has been demonstrated through the Trump administration’s family separation policies. This essay adds to the conversation about dehumanization by providing evidence that Trump presents a major increase in dehumanizing rhetoric compared to previous candidates, which is important to note as new policies unfold. Additionally, the essay provides a foundation of collected data for future studies.

Share

COinS