There were many things that distinguished this year's presidential election. It was longer than elections past, and uglier. It's looking more and more obvious to more and more people that Russian hackers interfered to sway the outcome in favor of Trump.
But the thing that perhaps most distinguished the 2016 presidential race was the role of social media: Facebook, and, to a slightly lesser extent, Twitter. Social media sites are modern-day salons. They are places where partisans of all stripes go to meet like-minded individuals and have their viewpoints vindicated. And, to an ever-increasing degree, they are places where regular Americans get their news (or fake news, as the case may be).
Donald Trump was the first American presidential candidate to fully embrace the use of social media in his campaign. For Trump, a through-and-through Twitter man, that meant weaponizing his Twitter account in service of his campaign. Unlike many celebrities of his caliber, Trump has (with few and brief exceptions) always run his own Twitter account. And again, unlike many celebrities of his caliber, Trump has never been above using his Twitter account to malign or complain about the people he doesn't like. And, of course, the election didn't change any of that.
Only his targets changed.
No one really knew how to treat this sort of a presidential campaign. Not journalists, not the other candidates, and certainly not the American people. This sort of behavior is not part of the traditional political script. But it made an amazing spectacle, so no one could look away. We all just stared--some of us in horror, some of us in glee--as Donald Trump barreled through all of his competition in the primary. When the primary was over, we all breathed a momentary sigh of relief, because surely Trump would change direction during the general election part of the campaign. Surely, now that the partisan circus of the primary season was over, he would start acting more presidential.
But he didn't. And then he won the general election, too.
At that point, many of us were hoping he would announce that is was all a joke. We assumed Trump would tweet that he just wanted to prove that he could win the presidency, and that he would go back to Celebrity Apprentice and resume his regular life. Others waited with bated breath for him to change, to abdicate his Twitter account and start acting more presidential.
Trump hasn't done any of those things. And his Twitter account hasn't changed a bit.
In our last discussion, 3 Reasons We Need to Hold Onto the First Amendment For Dear Effing Life, it was said that we were taking the content of all of the President-Elect's tweets seriously as they were written. For today's argument, we are looking at those tweets themselves. Here, we examine why it is so very awful and scary that our next American president communicates the way he does.
3 Reasons Why It's BAD that Trump Tweets (But Don't Look Away!)
- The President-Elect weaponizes his Twitter account against particular companies and individual Americans
Here is a list of the companies and individuals attacked by President-Elect Trump through his Twitter account:
Rexnord (Trump says they are moving to Mexico)
Boeing (Trump derided the price tag of the new Air Force One they're building)
Lockheed-Martin (Trump complained about the price tag of the F-35 program)
Cast of Hamilton (Trump demanded they apologize for addressing Vice-President Elect Pence after a show)
Alec Baldwin (Trump belittled his impressions of him on Saturday Night Live)
Former presidential candidate Jill Stein (Trump called her a scam artist for calling for a recount of several key states)
Leader of Local Steelworkers 1999 Chuck Jones (The union rep publically--and rightfully--accused Trump of lying about the terms of his Carrier deal)
And here are the President-Elect's actual tweets:
- The President-Elect's public whining about the election reveals him to be thin-skinned
Every time Donald Trump complains on Twitter about the recount in Michigan, or reiterates what he sees as his "landslide" Electoral College win, or calls Jill Stein a scam artist, or claims he would have won the popular vote, too, had it not been for all of the imagined voter fraud, he makes himself look like an ass to Americans and a weak, easily-manipulated despot to foreign powers.
Which might actually be exactly why Russia worked so hard to install him in the White House.
- The President-Elect's Twitter feed serves as a constant, horrifying spectacle to distract and confuse the populace
Do a Google search for "Evidence that Trump's tweets are a distraction" and you will get just as many hits for news articles that claim they are not mere distractions and need to be taken seriously as you will articles that warn against spending too much time staring at them.
I contend they are both.
Yes, the President-Elect tweets spontaneous, angry tirades when an SNL skit offends him. But also, yes, the President-Elect tweets crafty, well-thought-out messages designed to distract the American public from the fact that, for example, he appointed the racist, misogynist, anti-Semitic head of Breitbart to be his chief White House strategist. Or that he appointed the CEO of Exxon-Mobile to be his Secretary of State.
This is why we Americans now have the seemingly impossible task of watching the Donald's tweets AND watching the Donald's deeds. It's too big a job to handle alone. This MUST be a group effort. Talk to your friends. Talk to your neighbors. Talk to your family. Form resistance groups. Resistance is patriotic!
We have a long, hard, road ahead of us and we will tire. Nurture each other. Remind each other about the end goal: taking our country back.
The revolution will be tweeted!
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