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Trump’s Violent Language Toward EVs

Former President Donald J. Trump says that his recent warning of a “blood bath” if he is not elected president in November was made in the context of electric vehicles and that he was not talking about political violence generally.

But if discussing a type of automotive technology in bloody terms seems odd to some, it fits in the increasingly brutal language Mr. Trump has been applying to electric vehicles, one of his favorite foils.

He has long claimed electric cars will “kill” America’s auto industry. He has called them an “assassination” of jobs. He has declared that the Biden administration “ordered a hit job on Michigan manufacturing” by encouraging the sales of electric cars.

And on Saturday, after ticking off a litany of false claims about electric vehicles, he spoke about slapping a “100 percent tariff” on cars manufactured in Mexico but imported into the United States. “And you’re not going to be able to sell those cars,” he said. “If I get elected. Now if I don’t get elected, it’s going to be a blood bath for the whole. That’s going to be the least of it. It’s going to be a blood bath for the country, that’s going to be the least of it. But they’re not going to sell those cars.”

Edward W. Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, says Mr. Trump deploys graphic language to stir up his crowds.

“Donald Trump is a master of concrete language,” he said. “The term ‘blood bath’ is nothing if not concrete. Strong emotions are a great way to rally the base,” he said. Other experts in political speech say they believe Mr. Trump is normalizing violence by peppering a screed against electric vehicles with promises of a “blood bath” if he loses the election.

Jennifer Mercieca, author of “Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump,” noted that in his weekend speech, Mr. Trump jumped from complaining about the failure of the United Auto Workers to endorse him to making claims about the auto manufacturing industry leaving the United States for Mexico to the blood bath comment and then back to car sales.

“Because his speech was so disjointed it makes it difficult to know if he was threatening the U.A.W. workers, the U.S. auto manufacturers, or the nation as a whole,” Ms. Mercieca said. But, she added, “In a sense, it doesn’t matter because Trump was threatening all at once.”

Ms. Mercieca, who teaches communications at Texas A&M University, called Mr. Trump’s rhetoric a strategy of “ad baculum,” which is using threats of force or intimidation to coerce behavior.

“Trump paints a dire picture of the nation, threatening economic ruin if he isn’t put in charge,” she said. “Using threats of force to gain power over a nation is authoritarian,” she added, “not democratic.”

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