The Great Emancipators Oppose the “Slave Power”: The Lincolnian—and Aristotelian—Dimensions of Trump’s Rhetoric

  • Kenneth Masugi


As a candidate and as President, Donald Trump’s rhetoric of “Make America Great Again” echoed policies of the Whig Party, including tariffs, internal improvements, immigration, and war. He adopts the Whig championing of striving Americans. Without overt references, Trump reflects Lincoln in his emphasis on patriotism and duty of Americans toward each other. Trump’s nationalism is not one of race but of a common good in one country. Both the 16th and 45th presidents identified conspiracies against the people’s liberties (“the slave power” and “rigged system”), a majority faction. Both promoted patriotism in a multiracial, multicultural nation. Trump’s inaugural address, among his principal speeches, synopsizes his contrarian policies on borders, trade, war, and political correctness. As Harry Jaffa has shown with Lincoln, classical political philosophy, especially Aristotle’s teaching on the best regime and friendship of virtue, illuminates the intentions of both presidents and provides the standards of their success and failure.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth Masugi
    • 1
  1. 1.Claremont InstituteUplandUSA

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