3.1. Sentiment Analysis
presents a word cloud analysis of President Trump’s two SOUs. In his first 2018 SOU, depicted in Figure 1
A, the most frequently occurring word is “American”, followed by the symbol
which is a generic representation of different dollar amounts mentioned at various stages in his address. Other words emphasised include “will”, “year”, “one”, “tonight”, “people”, “new”, “year”, “america”, “together”, ‘great”, “home”, “tax” “congress”, “families”, “countries”, “proud”, “just”, “job”, and “citizen”.
The second and most recent SOU by President Trump is shown in Figure 1
B. This is dominated by the words “will”, “American”, “years”, “one”, “new”, “thank”, “americans”, “tonight”, “now”, “can”, ‘must”, “congress”, “border”, “last”, “time”, “also”, and “country”.
To provide a further contrast, the authors thought it might be instructive to compare this SOU with President Obama’s last SOU. Moreover, to provide an extreme contrast, we undertook an analysis of Hitler’s Proclamation to the German nation, in Berlin on 1 February 1933. The intention was to see whether a political speech has typical common elements, or whether more extreme National Socialist (Nazi) proclamations have a different structure and emotional tenor. A further caveat is that the analysis is undertaken on an English translation of Hitler’s 1933 proclamation, and not on the original German version.
It must be borne in mind that the economic circumstances in Germany in 1933 were markedly different from those in the USA in recent years. The German economy experienced the effects of the Great Depression, with unemployment soaring around the Wall Street Crash of 1929. When Adolf Hitler became Chancellor in 1933, he introduced policies aimed at improving the economy, including privatisation of state industries. National Socialist (or Nazi) Germany increased its military spending faster than any other state in peacetime, and the military eventually came to represent the majority of the German economy by the 1940s.
presents a word cloud analysis of both President Obama’s last SOU plus Hitler’s 1933 Berlin proclamation. The word cloud for President Obama’s last SOU, shown in Figure 2
A, displays that “will”, “American”, and “year” received the greatest emphases in terms of their frequency of use. These words were closely followed by “work”, “America”, “now”, “change”, “people”, and “just”. Further prominent words include “world”, “want”, “job”, “can” and “need”.
Hitler’s 1933 proclamation, as represented by the word cloud depicted in Figure 2
B, reveals that the most frequently occurring word is “nation”, followed by “German”, “year”, “will”, “govern”, “people”, “work”, ‘class”, “must”, “world”, “fourteen”, “life”, “upon”, and so on.
provides bar plots of the words used most frequently in President Trump’s two SOUs. The bar charts reinforce the word cloud analysis, but provide an indication of the relative frequency of use of the twenty most frequently occurring words. Figure 3
A shows that, in the first SOU, “American” occurs over 50 times, followed by various indications of dollar amounts, “will” occurs more than thirty times, while “great”, “last”, “together” and “tax” occur around twenty times each.
In Trump’s second SOU, depicted by the bar chart in Figure 3
B, “will” becomes the most frequently occurring word, followed by “years”, “one” and “American”, but the top few words are less frequent in President Trump’s second SOU than in his first. “American” is now the fourth most frequent word rather than the first, as in the previous SOU. Perhaps surprisingly, given the political battles enveloping the topic, “border” is the twentieth most frequently used word.
provides a similar analysis for President Obama’s last SOU and for Hitler’s 1933 Proclamation. Figure 4
A reveals that the most frequently used word in President Obama’s last SOU was “will”, which occurred 38 times, closely followed by “American” 37 times, and “year” 35 times. “Work”, “America” and “people” were the next most frequently occurring words.
Hitler’s 1933 Proclamation was a much shorter speech than the SOUs just considered. However, it was relatively dominated by the word “nation”, which occurred 35 times, while the next most frequently used word was “German”, mentioned 17 times, while “year” and “will” occurred 14 times each.
Patriotism and nationalism appear to be frequently occurring themes in these four very different political addresses. “American” is the first and fourth most frequently occurring words in President Trump’s two SOUs, and it is the second most frequently used word in President Obama’s last SOU. The most frequently used word in Hitler’s 1933 Proclamation was “Nation”, which had double the frequency of any other words mentioned, followed by “German”. There is clearly a strong nationalistic tone in his 1933 address.
The other recurrent theme in these four political speeches is the importance of intention, as captured by the use of the word “will”. It is the third and first most frequently occurring word used in President Trump’s two SOUs, respectively. It is the most frequent word in President Obama’s last SOU and the fourth most frequently occurring word in Hitler’s 1933 Proclamation.
shows the words most highly correlated with President Trump’s frequently used words in his two SOUs. “American” is the most frequently used word in his first SOU. Its use is most highly correlated with: “bridge”, “gleam”, “grit”, “heritage”, “highway”, “railway”, “reclaim”, “waterway”, “background”, “color”, “creed”, “dreamer”, “official”, “religion”, and “sacred”.
A second frequently used word is “will”, which is highly correlated with “deter”, ‘magic”, “part”, “someday”, “unfortunate”, “use”, “weapon”, and “yet”. The same two words are reversed in relative frequency of use in the second SOU. “Will” is most highly correlated with “never”, followed by “Afghan”, “constructive”, “counter-terrorism”, “focus”, “groups”, “indeed”, “Taliban”, “talks”, and “troop”. “American is most highly correlated with “back” and “soldiers”.
The analysis is concerned with an examination of the extent to which political speeches by different political leaders differ. We would expect to see similarities in the two speeches by President Trump. This includes similarities in the usage of words and correlations between pairs of words when they are made by the same politician.
provides an analysis of the words most highly correlated with frequently used words in President Obama’s last SOU and Hitler’s 1933 Proclamation. The analysis of President Obama’s last SOU reveals the weaknesses of a statistical analysis of individual words used as components of a particular address. The words most correlated with the word “American” were individual dollar amounts. “Will” is highly correlated with “preserve”, “status-quo”, and “planet”.
“America” is highly correlated with individual names, the components of which the program picked up individually, and it was not until the authors analysed the original text that the analysis made sense. In the speech, President Obama stated: “Now, that spirit of discovery is in our DNA. America is Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers and George Washington Carver. America is Grace Hopper and Katherine Johnson and Sally Ride. America is every immigrant and entrepreneur from Boston to Austin to Silicon Valley racing to shape a better future”.
The analysis of Hitler’s 1933 Berlin Proclamation was more revealing. “Nation”, the most frequently used word, is highly correlated with “life”, “will”, “govern”, and “regard”. “Will” is highly correlated with “health”, “lead”, “nation”, “back”, and “assist”. Finally, “German” is highly correlated with “work”, “rescue”, and “support”. This supports the national rebuilding of the German economy and the promotion of employment that was part of Hitler’s agenda in the early 1930s. He adopted the view that the natural unit of mankind was the Volk (“the people”), of which the German people was the greatest. He also believed that the state existed to serve the Volk. This leads to a consideration of “National Socialism” (or “Nazism”).
], pp. 18–19) suggested that “…nationalists have a vital role to play in the construction of nations, not as culinary artists or social engineers, but as political archaeologists rediscovering and reinterpreting the communal past in order to regenerate the community. Their task is indeed selective—they forget as well as remember the past—but to succeed in their task they must meet certain criteria. Their interpretations must be consonant not only with the ideological demands of nationalism, but also with the scientific evidence, popular resonance and patterning of particular ethnohistories”.
Nationalism holds that each nation should govern itself, free from outside interference (self-determination), and that the nation is the only rightful source of political power (popular sovereignty). It usually involves the maintenance of a single national identity, which would be based on shared social characteristics, such as shared history culture, language, religion, and politics. President Trump, with his slogan “MAGA” (make America great again), espouses a form of Nationalism.
President Obama’s last SOU is not free of nationalistic sentiment. He stated that: “I told you earlier all the talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air. Well, so is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker. Let me tell you something. The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth, period. Period. It is not even close. It is not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined.”
However, as the mechanical and statistical form of textmining used in this paper, though revealing, is not suited to teasing out the nuances in meaning of different forms of nationalism, emphasis is placed on a statistical analysis of the text.
We also used the R package “syuzhet” to examine the the sentiment of each string of words or sentences. We calculated the overall score and the mean or average sentiment score. The results vary slightly, depending on which lexicon or base dictionary is used. Syuzhet incorporates four sentiment lexicons. The default “syuzhet” lexicon was developed in the University of Nebraska Literary Lab under the direction of Jockers [5
], the creator of the R syuzhet package. This is the default lexicon. We also cross-checked using the nrc lexicon developed by Mohammad, who is a research scientist at the National Research Council Canada (NRC) (see: http://saifmohammad.com
). However, the results were quantitatively similar, and hence are not reported in the paper.
The analysis tells us whether the speech has a predominantly positive or negative score in emotional tenor. In the case of President Trumps first SOU, the total score was 113.75 and the mean score was 0.02196. This positive sentiment score is consistent with Allen, McAleer and Reid [3
], who reported similarly positive results for President Trump’s first SOU, on the basis of an application of the R package “sentiment”, which used a different lexicography. In the previous analysis, on the basis of a primary binary division into positive and negative sentiments, 60 per cent of the first SOU, in cases where sentiment could be ascribed, was recorded as being positive.
In his second SOU in 2019, the address had a total score of 139.85 and a mean score of 0.02557. His first SOU contained 5190 words and 30,271 characters, while his second SOU was slightly larger at 5442 words and 32,045 characters. President Obama’s last SOU had a total score of 169.8 and a mean score of 0.02712. President Obama’s last SOU was quite a large speech, containing 6233 words and 34,634 characters. In the case of Hitler’s 1933 Proclamation, the sum is 8.4 and the mean is 0.0053, but Hitler’s parsimonious proclamation only contained 1578 words and 9286 characters.
An interesting feature of these various speeches is the degree to which they contained predominantly positive or negative emotions. These are plotted in Figure 5
and Figure 6
. In both of President Trump’s SOUs, “Trust” is the predominant emotion displayed. In all speeches, apart from President Trump’s second SOU, it accounts for more than 25 per cent of the total emotional content. This is also the case in President Obama’s last SOU, and in Hitler’s 1933 Proclamation. In all four speeches, “Trust” dominates by a large margin in the order of 10 per cent, though it is slightly lower in President Trump’s second SOU.
“Fear” is the second dominant emotion in Trump’s SOU, and drops to third in his second SOU. “Fear” is the third emotion in President Obama’s last SOU, accounting for about 14 per cent of the emotional content, but it is more prominent in Hitler’s 1933 proclamation, in which it is the second ranked emotion, and accounts for about 18 per cent of the emotional content.
“Anticipation” plays a large role in President Trump’s and Obama’s addresses, in which it always accounts for around 15 per cent of the total emotional content; indeed, it is slightly more than 15 per cent in the case of President Obama. It is much less prominent in Hitler’s Proclamation, where it is the fifth most frequently occurring emotion, accounting for about 12 per cent of the total emotional content. Indeed, a feature of Hitler’s address is the predominance of negative emotions, with “fear”, “sadness” and “anger” taking precedence after “trust”.
In contrast, “anticipation” and “joy” are much more predominant in the two US President’s SOUs, never dropping below 13 per cent in emotional content, and always ranking in the top four emotions. In Hitler’s speech, “anticipation” is the fifth ranked emotion.
Another interesting feature of the four speeches is their “emotional valence”, or the pattern of sequential positive and negative emotions displayed as the speech unfolds through time. Plots of these patterns are shown in Figure 7
and Figure 8
. There is a distinct change in pattern in the emotional valence of President Trump’s two SOUs, as shown in Figure 7
A,B. In the first, he commences on a positive emotional tone and is fairly upbeat in the first part of the speech, but then has multiple negative drops in the second half of the speech, before ending on a positive emotional note. In his second SOU, the pattern is roughly reversed, and there are more emotional negative points in the first half of the SOU, whereas the emotional volatility increases in the second half of the speech, with more frequent extreme highs and lows, and a predominantly positive tone at the end of the speech.
A reveals that President Obama, in his last SOU, commences on a predominantly positive note, with some pronounced positive spikes, becomes more measured and negative in the middle of the speech, and ends on a predominantly positive note, with multiple positive peaks towards the end of his speech. Figure 8
B shows that Hitler’s much shorter 1933 Proclamation is quite volatile in the first part of the speech, becomes more measured in the second half, with fewer extreme peaks and troughs, and finishes on a positive note.