‘We need to talk’: Trump’s electoral rhetoric and the role of transatlantic dialogues

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Trump’s stinging electoral rhetoric regarding Europe has profoundly challenged the foundations of the transatlantic relations. Exploring the link between electoral rhetoric and US foreign policy, this article focusses on a key feature of transatlantic policy-making, that is, the multi-levelled architecture of European Union (EU)–US dialogues, involving diplomats, legislators, and civil society. While research shows that dialogues help promote cooperation, their relevance and specific functions in times of elections have not been explored so far. To what extent do dialogical interactions change at the approach of elections and right afterwards? Why do dialogues keep going, in spite of fierce presidential rhetoric suggesting otherwise? To fill this gap, this article explores the EU–US dialogues following Trump’s election to determine the extent to which these dialogues endorse new functions that have so far been overlooked. Adopting a socio-psychological approach, it shows that one of the functions that dialogue fulfils in times of elections is the reassurance that the relationship identity of the actors will be respected to meet their ontological security needs. Drawing on interviews and official documents, this article sheds a new light on the importance of dialogical engagement at these critical points in the life of liberal democracies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-126
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • US foreign policy
  • dialogue
  • electoral rhetoric
  • ontological security
  • transatlantic relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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