‘Democracy Trumped’: Professor Lance Bennett on Trump’s Propaganda

In an article he wrote for The Business of Society (BOS) website, UW Political Science Professor Lance Bennett answers the question: “How did a brand magnate reality TV star with a vindictive style and no political experience become president of the United States?” Drawing a comparison to the former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, Bennett notes that “Trump found and fed the white anger with simple, emotional messages” thereby winning votes. He “dominated the daily media spectacle with tirades against immigrants, government corruption, establishment politicians from both parties, the press, and the global economy.” Furthermore, the announcement of a renewed investigation of the Clinton emails by the FBI director served as an ‘October surprise’ that caused many undecided voters to vote for Trump. Ultimately, Bennett argues, “populism’s greatest weapon is propaganda supported by social media” and that it was “cosmopolitan arrogance [that] lost the election”:

“Those of us who benefit from cosmopolitan societies and global economies have failed to notice that democratic institutions of press and parties have withered, while a new and more ominous political and communication order has emerged in our midst.”

Moreover, the rise of a radical right movement that Trump’s election underscores is also taking place in Europe as “28 European countries have radical right parties on the rise.”

The article entitled “Democracy Trumped – Understanding Trump’s Propaganda” was published on the BOS website on November 16, 2016. The Business of Society website is interested in how business and society interrelate, in particular it “provides a platform to discuss and inspire people to reflect and take part in the discussion on issues related to corporate social responsibility (CSR), corporate sustainability, sustainable consumption, and government’s impact on corporations, to name a few.” The website is run by a group of academics at the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark.