Roy Peter Clark explains:
A recent NPR report captured the enthusiasm of Trump supporters at a rally in Cincinnati, where the next president thanked the State of Ohio for his victory, patted himself on the back for getting Carrier to stay put and tossed red meat to the carnivores in the crowd on some of their favorite campaign themes.
In turn, the crowd chanted a series of slogans:
On Hillary: “Lock her up.”
On immigration: “Build that wall.”
On Washington: “Drain the swamp.”
I needed to hear them spoken in close proximity to notice that structurally the three slogans were identical. Each began with an imperative verb (lock, build, drain). Each was three words long. All nine words were one syllable in length. Each verb was transitive, that is, it carried an object. And in each case some unspecified subject was order to do something to something else ...
These three-beat slogans seem to be a special form of battle cry ...
“Lock her up.”
“Build that wall.”
“Drain the swamp.”
They are chant-able like many popular sports chants: “Let’s go Mets!”
Their expression in three words offers a kind of completeness: this is all you need to know. And their brevity rings like the gospel truth.
They show fidelity. They are confident, at times to the point of intolerance. Fact checking and wonkery bounce off of them. They seem silly when spoken by an individual. Coming from an excited crowd they express a collective energy, an army of followers ready to go to war for their king.