Unless you’ve been a resident of Under-a-Rock, USA for the past two years, you’ve known that President Donald Trump is a big fan of using twitter to air his grievances about things. These things can range from the political, to the humorous, to the downright crazy. (Here is a great compilation of them) He isn’t new at this, he’s had his account since 2009. Back then he used it to push the Birther theory that questioned the birthplace of President Obama. Now he has moved onto much nobler Twitter crusades, like accusing Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower in the lead-up to the election.
Of course, aside from his political dealings, the President also has some personal scores to settle. After all, the best way to follow a huge accusation against your predecessor is saying that Arnold Schwarzenegger is getting pathetic ratings on the Celebrity Apprentice. Tweet patterns like this sometimes make it hard to take his account seriously, until we remember that it is managed by the President of the United States of America.
Many people would like to see Trump stop tweeting for one reason or another, but it is obvious he has no intent of stopping. He has good reason to not stop: his Twitter presence allows him to wield a huge amount of power.
He won’t stop because his Tweets give him huge power over the news cycle. One tweet can change all the headlines. As many people have theorized, the wiretapping tweets were an attempt to change the news cycle away from the ongoing questions about the Trump campaign and Russia. Instead of filling Sunday-morning political talk shows to the brim with discussions about Jeff Sessions and Sergey Kislyak, they instead had to pull out national security experts to basically repeat the same thing over and over again “Where is the evidence?”.
Whether they like them or not, news outlets wait with baited breath for the next time Trumps types a few words into his phone. I’m waiting for a “breaking news” style transition on cable news channels, complete with dramatic music to announce a newly-released tweet.
(And yes, I’ll admit it, I have tweet notifications turned on for Trump, for the sole reason that it puts me ahead of the news cycle. There is no better way to start your day than to read the rants of the leader of the free world!)
The other great power of his Twitter account is that it is a line directly to the people, without any comment from others. One of Trump’s biggest fights of his young presidency has been against the press and “fake news”. He claims that outlets like the New York Times, the Washington Post, and CNN treat him unfairly (the degree of accuracy of those claims is a discussion for another time). What better way to get past the “lying, fake, failing” news than to deliver your opinions directly to the people? Like it or not, thats a solid strategy to follow.
The idea a lot of people have about why the President keeps tweeting is “it got him this far, so why would he stop now?” Cartoonist Scott Adams, when he isn’t making Dilbert comics, blogs about how Trump uses his “master persuader” techniques to get his way. I recommend checking out his blog, his takes on things can really give a new perspective on Trump’s strategies. He reads Trump as someone who is way smarter than many people give him credit for, and that he uses persuasion and borderline hypnotic techniques to win. His take on it can be summed up with this comic he released last week:
Trump won’t stop tweeting because of the power that it allows him to wield; he can address the people without any interference from others, and he can control the news cycle with it. Who would give up that power? It doesn’t look like he will. All we can do is hope that some of the level-headed members of the White House convince him to stop peddling conspiracy theories at the crack of dawn. What Trump should remember about the influence his social media presence has is a lesson he is learning about many things now: With great power comes great responsibility.