Having launched his presidential campaign on the basis that “the world is falling apart,” Lindsey Graham has threaded doomsday rhetoric into his entire campaign. Simply put, Sen. Graham views the world as stark and full of destruction; his rhetoric follows that theme as he borrows the literal language of war and physical destruction to describe more abstract, nonphysical entities. For instance, Graham almost exclusively refers to the presidential title as ‘commander-in-chief,’ retiring the familiar term to instead use one that is strongly associated with war.


Graham’s doomsday rhetoric ranges from direct to subtle, depending on the purpose of his statement. The four examples listed below are direct in that they employ an active verb related to war and/or destruction. These represent character attacks, associating the person on the receiving end of the statement with something dangerous or threatening. In claiming that Donald Trump has ‘hijacked’ the debate, Graham associates Trump with terrorism.


  • “I think he’s hijacked the debate.” [Donald Trump]
  • “I think he’s a wrecking ball for the future of the Republican Party.” [Donald Trump]
  • “He also said it in a way that’s going to kill my party.” [Donald Trump]
  • “You’re destroying the early primary process.” [Fox News’ debate rules]

The following two statements are more passive and subtle, describing something that has been negatively impacted. Rather than serving as verbal attacks, they illustrate Graham’s apocalyptic view of broader topics. In his describing the Republican Party as one that was ‘in tatters,’ he indicates that it had been ravaged by a figurative war.

  • “There’s a lot of frustration with broken borders.”
  • “Chairman Priebus has done a good job of rebuilding a party that was in tatters.”


Sen. Graham’s rhetoric has set a precedent for his entire campaign, as his apocalyptic world view is reflected in his statements. However, U.S. history has demonstrated that people prefer candidates who focus on the country’s potential over its problems. Given that Americans tend to elect the language of dreamers, Graham’s doomsday rhetoric will likely not resonate with voters in the 2016 presidential election.


by m+p intern Caitlin Carey

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