Within the last decade, a rising tide of right-wing populism across the globe has inspired a renewed push toward nationalism. Capitalizing on an increasingly chaotic public sphere, leaders are stoking fear in their constituents such that their radical ideologies and hardline policy decisions may be enacted. This article offers a comparative study of two leaders exploiting the vulnerabilities of their respective citizenries: United States President Donald Trump and Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán. Drawing from and reimagining Richard Hofstadter’s germane essay, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” we argue that both represent a new manifestation of the paranoid style as it enables (and is enabled by) “public secrecy.” By controlling the media and redirecting collective attention by way of rhetorical sleight of hand, the two are able to sow disorder and confusion such that their secrecy may persist out in the open. Despite using similar issues to promulgate fear and paranoia, most prominently the refugee and immigration crises, and their similar end goals, the two must nonetheless engage in different discursive strategies that reflect the distinct cultures and histories of their respective countries.
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Timmer, Andria; Joseph Sery; Sean Thomas Connable; and Jennifer Billinson. 2018. "A Tale of Two Paranoids: A Critical Analysis of the Use of the Paranoid Style and Public Secrecy by Donald Trump and Viktor Orbán." Secrecy and Society 1(2). https://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/secrecyandsociety/vol1/iss2/3