President Donald Trump’s use of Twitter has altered the flow of public information about White House policy and procedures. It has allowed for direct communication between the president and his followers on all sides of the political aisles. The president’s twitter account currently has 66.9 million followers.
The New York Times reported that early in his presidency top aides wanted to restrain the president’s Twitter habit, even considering asking the company to impose a 15-minute delay. Twitter is a powerful social media tool that may have helped the president get elected because of his direct communication with his targeted audience. Fewer than one-fifth of his followers are voting-age Americans, according to a Times analysis of Pew Research national surveys of adults who use Twitter.
The president has used Twitter to address foreign policy. “I must, in the strongest of terms, ask Mexico to stop this onslaught,” he wrote in October 2018, in regards to a caravan of migrants from Central America. “If unable to do so I will call up the U.S. Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!”
He’s also used Twitter to terminate working relationships with people who work at the pleasure of his presidency. In April of 2019, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen brought her resignation letter but was unsuccessful in announcing her resignation when President Donald Trump tweeted that she “will be leaving her position.”
In October 2017, Rex W. Tillerson, the president’s first secretary of state, was in China with a team of diplomats negotiating sanctions on Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, when President Trump weighed in on Twitter. Secretary Tillerson was “wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” he wrote. “Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!”
The President has tweeted misinformation. On his sixth day as President, he advanced the false claim that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election, depriving him of a popular-vote majority. He has tweeted over 40 times about voter fraud and a “rigged” electoral system. He tweeted that Democrats made up Russian interference in the 2016 election to justify Hillary Clinton’s loss. In June and July 2016, cybersecurity experts and firms, including CrowdStrike, Fidelis, FireEye Mandiant, SecureWorks, Symantec, and ThreatConnect, stated the Democratic National Convention (DNC) email leaks were part of a series of cyberattacks on the DNC committed by two Russian intelligence groups.
While First Lady, Melania Trump, has spoken out against cyberbullying, President Trump is often a proponent of it. With numerous tweets that attack journalists, fellow politicians, and celebrities that disagree with him, including members of his party. He has established battle lines with the ‘Dems’ as the enemy, and his party as the saviors of the country.
He’s used Twitter to promote personal agendas including promoting a book his son wrote. “My son, @DonaldJTrumpJr is coming out with a new book, “Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us” – available tomorrow, November 5th!” Trump tweeted. “Great new book that I highly recommend for ALL to read.” That kind of promotional tweet would be a violation of ethics rules said Liz Hempowicz, the director of public policy at the Project on Government Oversight, a nonpartisan government watchdog group.
Between the misinformation, ethical violations, and the name-calling, President Trump’s credibility among those who did not vote for him has been harmed. After reading the president’s own words for the past two years, it didn’t come as a surprise when the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, announced that an impeachment inquiry would be started. The president’s reaction was both predictable and inflammatory.
The question at the core of the inquiry is whether or not President Trump withheld foreign aid in an attempt to get a country to investigate an opponent in the upcoming Presidential election. Three witnesses employed by the State Department testified in the impeachment inquiry; Marie L. Yovanovitch the former ambassador to Ukraine, Colonel Vindman the top Ukraine policy official on the National Security Council staff, and Ms. Williams a national security aide to Vice President Mike Pence.
While Yavonovitch was testifying, the president released a tweet that said: “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go?” In the memorandum of a telephone conversation released by the White House between President Donald Trump and President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, shows President Zelensky telling the president, “It was great that you were the first one who told me that she was a bad ambassador because I agree with you 100%. Her attitude towards me was far from the best as she admired the previous President and she was on his side. She would not accept me as a new President well enough.”
The President of the United States has brought a new element to the office of the presidency with his direct communication to his audience, but with it, his tweets have caused division, animosity, and contempt for once respected political institutions and media outlets. With the 2020 election less than a year away, the impeachment inquiry could prevent months of governing from occurring, and further alienate constituents who are taking sides.
Whether the President of the United States used his political influence to force another country to investigate the actions of his opponent is for congress to decide. The president has shown that he will use bullying tactics on Twitter against friends and foes alike. The voters will have their chance to speak in the 2020 election and have a chance to unite this country so divided by partisan practices.
It’s important to remember that we are not in a civil war. Through focusing on our local communities, and less about the saga of Washington, we can start building that unity through partnering on programs that enrich and develop the areas we live in. If we allow politics to destroy the foundations of our friendships, family members, and acquaintances then we’re accepting the philosophy that those who disagree with us are wrong instead of allowing ourselves to be open to the education of differing opinions.