Donald Trump’s rhetoric on the January 6th is becoming increasingly radical

According to data compiled by the Washington Post, Donald Trump is using increasingly radical language in his speeches to describe the rioters who attacked the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

After calling them “political prisoners”, which they are not, Donald Trump now calls the rioters “hostages”, which they are not either.

Figure 1 - Number of speeches in which Donald Trump calls the January 6th rioters “hostages” at least once. Source: Washington Post.

In addition to these fallacious qualifications, Donald Trump also promises an amnesty for the rioters.

→ via Michael Clemens on Bluesky

On top of the obvious moral issue posed by Donald Trump’s rhetoric, the radicalization of his speech is probably a poor political strategy. I have seen at least two recent polls showing that a large majority of Americans condemn the riot, as illustrated by Figure 2.

Figure 2 - 22% of respondents “approve” of the actions of those who forced their way into the Capitol on January 6, 2021, 78% “disapprove”. Source: CBS News and YouGov.

Even worse, Figure 3 shows that the majority of Republican voters disapprove of the riot. Including MAGA (“Make America Great Again”) supporters, who are the most aligned Republicans with Donald Trump.

Figure 3 - 43% of MAGA (“Make America Great Again”) Republican supporters “approve” of the actions of those who forcibly entered the Capitol on January 6, 2021, compared to 22% of non-MAGA Republican supporters. Source: CBS News and YouGov.

A second poll, which I can’t manage to find, showed that only a third of Republicans have a positive view of the rioters (I think the question asked was “would you say that the people who participated in January 6th are patriots?”).

The Capitol rioters are deeply unpopular among American voters. Defending them as Donald Trump does go against public opinion, which could be a significant drag at the polls. Going against public opinion matters, as showed by how costly overturning Roe v. Wade has proven to be for the GOP.

Donald Trump’s words are an even worse political strategy as Democrats will use them in their communication. And given the unpopularity of the rioters among Americans, I suspect it can be an effective strategy by the Democrats.