Historian of American political rhetoric & rhetorical analyst.




Expert on Trump's demagoguery.


"Mercieca is probably the leading authority on Trump’s rhetoric."

    --Jonathan Tilove, Austin-American Statesman

Dr. Jennifer Mercieca is an historian of American political rhetoric. She is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at Texas A&M University and is a Contributing Editor for Zócalo Public Square.

Writing & Public Scholarship

Jennifer writes about American political discourse, especially as it relates to citizenship, democracy, and the presidency. Jennifer has published three books about political rhetoric: Founding FictionsThe Rhetoric of Heroic Expectations: Establishing the Obama Presidency, and Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump.


She has written about rhetoric and politics for The Conversation, Zócalo Public Square, USA TodayWashington Post, and other major media outlets. 

​She has been interviewed about rhetoric and politics by the BBC World News, NPR's All Things Considered, NPR's 1A, Diane Rehm, The New York Times, CNN, The Guardian, Vice News, Australia's ABC Radio, Slate, USA Today, and many other outlets throughout the United States and Worldwide.






FREE ACCESS This scholarly essay argues that we can usefully separate “heroic demagogues” from “dangerous demagogues” by whether or not the demagogue allows themselves to be held accountable for their words and actions. “Dangerous demagoguery” can be thought of as “weaponized communication” that uses words as weapons to achieve the dangerous demagogue’s strategic goals. The essay examines several recent examples of dangerous demagogues using weaponized communication strategies, including conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, President Donald Trump, and Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin. Weaponized communication is a danger in any democracy as it corresponds with democratic erosion.


From Just Security: Throughout the Mueller Report, we see evidence of Trump using ad baculum (appeal to the stick) — in other words, Trump routinely uses threats of force to attempt to get his way. We can think of ad baculum as “weaponized communication” tactics that use language as a cudgel to intimidate, coerce, and gain compliance over others. Ad baculum in argumentation is fallacious—it is actually an attempt to prevent debate and discussion by overwhelming the opposition, so that they cannot make their case. Ad baculum in politics is authoritarian—it is a tactic designed to prevent democratic decision-making, or in this case, to prevent the administration of justice in a democratic, rule-of-law system.

FREE ACCESS: The rhetorical presidency model made good sense within the traditional media market of the twentieth century, but makes little sense within the new media market of the new millennium. The era of the rhetorical presidency was characterized by a relationship between the presidency and the press that was reciprocal, mutually beneficial, and stable; the era of the post-rhetorical presidency is characterized by a relationship between the presidency and the press that is independent, competitive, and unstable. The post-rhetorical presidency began with the Bush Administration and flourished with the Obama Administration’s expert use of social and new media. Trump has only continued what his predecessors started.



The Gist - The Secret Rhetorical Genius
_The Open Mind  Hosted by Alexander Heff

The Secret Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump

October 17, 2016

These Rhetorical Devices Help Trump Maintain Power: What rhetoric means in the outrage media entertainment complex. January 27, 2020

Comic Hero: Why Donald Trump's Candid Rhetoric Resonates With Supporters. January 19, 2017.

Harsh Words. Violent Acts. Who’s Accountable? October 31, 2018


American Demagogue, April 27, 2020

Author, Researcher, Professor