I know there's a word for that.

It was a speech where Kennedy was demonizing the steel CEO's for raising prices while subtly dropping in words like "we" and "the American people". He was making it sound like it's the American people vs the steel CEO's.


wedge issue

This is a strategy in politics that forces people to take one side or the other. You can't sit on a wedge (unlike a fence). I am not sure if this is exactly what you are after. Maybe:

Creating a divide


Divisive politics




  1. a sharp division, as of a population or group, into opposing factions.

Polarization is a strategy used in ideological discourse. See Wikipedia articles on social identity theory and Ingroups and outgroups.

The polarized (Us vs. Them) structures of ideological discourse typically use various forms of rhetorical "figures," such as hyperboles and euphemisms, to emphasize or mitigate assumed in-group and out-group properties.
Google Books: Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Social Sciences


In logic, this is called a False Dichotomy, and is considered a fallacy. The classic example is "you are either for us, or against us". This phrase has been used by US presidents and Sith Lords. Neutrality is not an option to the speaker who uses this false dichotomy.

  • False Dichotomy is different from what the questioner has in mind. Kennedy is not arguing that there are only two sides people can choose. He is subtly manipulating the audience's emotion to gain support.
    – Siyuan Ren
    May 13 '15 at 7:27

I think this is what Kenneth Burke called Identification. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_Burke#Persuasions_and_influences

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