Document Type





Donald Trump, Civility, Norms, Manners, American Politics, Dissent, Hierarchy, Democracy




American Politics | American Popular Culture | Leadership Studies | Political Theory | Politics and Social Change | President/Executive Department | Public Affairs


According to supporters and opponents alike, Donald Trump has been an unconventional candidate and president. In this article, I evaluate the relationship between Trump’s unconventional behavior and the requirements of civility. I provide a definition of civility, and I explain why it makes sense to relate Trump’s actions to civil norms. I then discuss how civility is enacted, I examine criticisms of civility’s triviality, and I explore the ways in which civility may repress dissent and maintain hierarchy. Although I consider the degree to which Trump’s actions are strategic, I ultimately argue that Trump’s incivilities should be understood as an effort to initiate a revolution in manners. In this regard, Trump’s behavior is not unprecedented. He is participating in a longstanding American tradition of determining standards of appropriate conduct through political conflict.

Additional Information

Author is jointly appointed in the Syracuse University College of Law and in the Political Science Department at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.