The Rise of Trump and the Death of Civility

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1 Scopus citations


According to supporters and opponents alike, Donald Trump has been an unconventional candidate and president. In this article, I evaluate the relationship between Trump’s unconventional behavior and the requirements of civility. I provide a definition of civility, and I explain why it makes sense to relate Trump’s actions to civil norms. I then discuss how civility is enacted, I examine criticisms of civility’s triviality, and I explore the ways in which civility may repress dissent and maintain hierarchy. Although I consider the degree to which Trump’s actions are strategic, I ultimately argue that Trump’s incivilities should be understood as an effort to initiate a revolution in manners. In this regard, Trump’s behavior is not unprecedented. He is participating in a longstanding American tradition of determining standards of appropriate conduct through political conflict.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-23
Number of pages18
JournalLaw, Culture and the Humanities
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • American politics
  • Donald Trump
  • civility
  • democracy
  • dissent
  • hierarchy
  • manners
  • norms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Law


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