Ivanka Trump's tweets used to have the veneer of normality, despite the highly not normal premise of her being a senior White House advisor in the first place. At the very least, the words were properly capitalized and the sentences weren't overly peppered with exclamation points.
But lately, the writing style employed by Moderating Force Ivanka seems to have fallen by the wayside in favor of the protocol passed down by her father: devil-may-care capitalization of any Word that seems Important and more exclamation points than should be legal, often topped off by the ALL CAPS. Last month, he even tweeted a promise: "When referring to the USA, I will always capitalize the word Country!"
Ivanka has been following suit: "country" became "Country" in her Thanksgiving tweet. The Economic Agenda is a beautiful thing! (There is, of course, no official Thing called the Economic Agenda.) We'll never know whether there's a Trumpian Style Guide living in a Google doc somewhere (probs not). But we do know that Ivanka is pretty deliberate about her choices, so to us, it's unlikely that she just randomly picked up the habit. Perhaps she's just like her father after all.
Migrants at the Southern Border will not be allowed into the United States until their claims are individually approved in court. We only will allow those who come into our Country legally. Other than that our very strong policy is Catch and Detain. No “Releasing” into the U.S...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 24, 2018
This #ThanksgivingDay lets recognize the great blessing of living in America, offer gratitude for those serving our communities and Country who cannot be with their families and recommit to uplifting those less fortunate with acts of love and generosity.— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) November 22, 2018
Happy Thanksgiving! xx
Opportunity Zones, passed in Tax Cuts legislation, will have a transformative effect on distressed urban and rural communities across America.— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) November 9, 2018
Thank you @SenatorTimScott for your advocacy of this great policy. @WhiteHouseCEA @sparker https://t.co/Z8Os4Xm1ks
Behind this madcap drive to capitalize is a strong desire for your words to Matter in a way that won't make anyone question what you're saying. It's a technique "long exploited by faith healers and self-help gurus," common in "get-rich-quick and quack medicine books desperate to sell readers on the Truth of their claims," Alan Levinovitz, an associate professor of religious studies at James Madison University, wrote in the Washington Post.
"Initial capitals, once used to lend importance to certain words, are now used only ironically," says The Chicago Manual of Style, as Levinovitz noted. Later, it explains: "Words for transcendent ideas in the Platonic sense, especially when used in a religious context, are often capitalized."
Dr. Deborah Tannen, linguistics professor at Georgetown University and author of several books including the recent You're the Only One I Can Tell: Inside the Language of Women's Friendships, explained that in written language, people find ways to emphasize meaning that, in speaking, we can convey with our tone of voice, loudness, or intonation. Capitalization is one of them.
Breaking rules — grammatical or otherwise — seems to serve Trump well, she added. "People who like him seem to value that he doesn't follow rules," she told Refinery29. As for Ivanka, Dr. Tannen said that she either picked up the caps habit because she saw it so many times in her dad's tweets and it began to look right to her, or she likes the feeling it communicates.
It isn't hard to see why the Trumps have adapted the conventions of quackery and self-styled self-help gurus. They have a long history of duping people into buying things that aren't as good as they seem using the mirage of luxury. In politics, their new "Platonic ideals" are Country, Border, Catch and Detain: all designed to drive a fear of outsiders into people's hearts.