Political Movements

‘Not My President’ Movement: “It’s not sloganeering; it’s observable truth”

A rhetorical analysis of the fight against Trump. See New York Times article, What We Saw as Trump Took Office

Not My President Protest Poster

The ‘Not my President’ movement that has gained momentum since Donald Trump was elected as president serves as a perfect example of how the rhetorical situation plays a crucial role in social movements. In the article, The Rhetorical Situation, Lloyd F. Bitzer makes the argument that the rhetorical situation creates the platform for rhetoric to take place. 

This article argues previous theories that the rhetorical situation was a product of the rhetoric, rather than something that exists on its own. Bitzer’s theory that the rhetorical situation opens the doors for discourse to take shape allows us to better understand the ‘not my president’ movement.

This movement is a result of thousands of Americans expressing their frustration and dissatisfaction with the results of the 2016 Presidential Election. The New York Times published a collection of articles titled, What We Saw as Trump Took Office, that expressed various citizens’ opinions and experiences since joining this movement. One person featured in the article expressed her need to join the movement when she realized that this president was not looking out for her best interests. 

“Mr. Trump has no intention of representing me, my family, the people I care about, or the majority of Americans, from the imperiled to the comfortable.” – Lindy West

As we can see from Lindy’s case, the rhetorical situation existed before the movement. The election surrounding Donald Trump is what ignited the ‘Not My President’ movement. As we can see from this example, Bitzer’s theory holds true; the situation invites the rhetorical discourse.

Now that we have a better understanding of the rhetorical situation that created this movement, we can take a deeper look into the rhetoric of the movement itself. 

The movement is not just about expressing dislike towards Donald Trump. Rather, it is about refusing to allow the president to make the country take steps back after so many strides toward equality, acceptance, and respect. This movement is all about standing up for what is right and speaking up. One author from the New York Times article was very clear about what needed to happen. She said, 

“There’s more to activism than protest, and there’s more to activism than only talking to friends who already agree with you,” she said. “We have to be uncomfortable, for as many years as it takes.” -Emma Roller

A crucial piece of this movement is the unity it has created between all of the Americans that do not believe Trump is the man for the job. Women, immigrants, minorities, members of the LGBTQ community, and everyone in between have bonded together to speak up for their rights, and for their voices to be heard. The ‘Not my President’ movement is for those who feel forgotten or ignored with Trump in charge. He only looks out for his own kind, and everyone else is left to fend for themselves. The rhetoric of this movement is all about fighting to keep those voices heard and to protect America from going back in time to a country that is not quite so free. 

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