People often try to use various tricks to make others say or do certain things. Logical fallacies are common tools employed to achieve this goal. A straw man fallacy is a misrepresentation of an opponent’s argument aimed at making it easier to refute (Vaughn, 2017). The idea behind this instrument often implies the focus on the emotional component, which can make people pay less attention to the exact arguments and words. Straw man fallacies are frequently utilized in politics, and Trump’s use of this device could contribute to his victory during the presidential elections.
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Examples of Trump’s Fallacies
Donald Trump is an ardent supporter of the idea of building a wall between the USA and Mexico as he is an opponent to milder immigration policies. During his presidential campaign, he attacked one of Hillary Clinton’s remarks regarding open borders, which turned out to be a straw man. Trump stressed that Clinton said she wanted open borders and Democrats wanted to let “illegals… some of whom cause lots of problems” cone into the United States (Fox Business, 2018). However, Trump attacked a straw man but not Clinton’s argument as she never said she wanted open borders in relation to immigration. During her meeting with bankers, Hillary Clinton mentioned that she dreamt of “common market, with open trade and open borders” (as cited in Associated Press, 2016, para. 6). The candidate never said she wanted open borders to let all foreigners to the country. Therefore, Donald Trump, on purpose, misrepresented Hillary Clinton’s argument to make it easier for him to refute it. He knew that immigration was a sensitive topic for Americans, and many people had fears related to uncontrolled immigration.
This fallacy may seem a slippery slope as Trump also stresses that Democrats want to protect illegals who will cause a lot of issues. He enumerates possible scenarios that are rather unlikely to happen as even open borders do not necessarily mean the provision of permission for illegals and criminals to come into the country. Moreover, the link between newcomers and problems is rather weak as no sufficient evidence can be given to support the argument that immigrants (as opposed to unemployment, ethnic-related issues, and so on) cause an increase in crime rates. However, the fallacy in question is not a slippery slope as the opponent never mentioned open borders in relation to immigration. Donald Trump made up an argument and attacked it successfully.
A similar fallacy is related to the discussion of Darwin’s theory of evolution. Opponents of the theory argue that Darwin’s concepts are erroneous as people could not evolve from monkeys. If evolution theory was valid, monkeys would continue evolving into humans, which is not happening. However, this is a straw man as Darwin never said or wrote that people evolved from monkeys. The scientist claimed that people and monkeys had the same ancestors who transformed into different species due to the influence of dissimilar environments.
In conclusion, it is necessary to state that a straw man is quite common as it helps a person to win a debate due to the lack of people’s attention or awareness of certain facts. Thus, many Americans believed that Clinton wanted to let illegals come into the USA, although she mentioned open borders in relation to the banking system and commerce. Trump attacked a non-existent argument and became more successful during the presidential elections. Therefore, it is essential to be more attentive and identify some individuals’ attempts to manipulate other people’s opinions. It is important to think critically and make evidence-based decisions.
Associated Press. (2016). Hillary Clinton told bankers she favoured ‘open trade and open borders’ according to excerpts of speeches published by WikiLeaks. South China Morning Post. Web.
Fox Business. (2018). Trump: Democrats want open borders and they don’t mind crime [Video file]. Web.
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Vaughn, L. (2017). Concise guide to critical thinking. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.