Whether or not you’re an avid social media user, by now you have heard of Donald Trump’s outrageous Twitter account. It’s an endless stream of clumsily crafted self-congratulation and 3am rants that has captured the attention of media outlets, several of which have joked that if Trump does somehow manage to get elected president, he’ll have to scale back on his tweeting.
It’s easy to turn it all into a joke—the name-calling, the bad hair, and the fake tan. It can be difficult to remember that the tweets entering the cybersphere from the brain of Donald Trump aren’t 140 character jokes written for our collective amusement. They are his vision for America.
The beauty—and tragedy—of Twitter is that it enables us to see inside the minds of the public figures who use the platform; considering the high volume of Trump’s tweets, that could be overwhelming—if his tweets didn’t boil down to nine precise modes of thinking. But simplistic or not, his Twitter account is more than a 24/7 laugh factory. Its content represents the mind of a man who, if elected to run the United States, would create a world that isn’t funny at all.
1) Sexism, racism, and homophobia
.@ariannahuff is unattractive both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man- he made a good decision.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2012
In several of his tweets and speeches, Donald Trump claims to be speaking on behalf of “the silent majority” of America. We can only assume he’s referencing Nixon’s “silent majority,” a term popularized in 1969 when a so-called “noisy minority” of Americans was protesting the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War.
But who is Trump’s “silent majority?” They might not be a majority, but they’re anything but silent. They are neo-Confederates who pass out racist literature at his speeches. They are white supremacists who want to open an all-white town in North Dakota and name it after Donald Trump. They are people who violently assault a sleeping homeless man, citing Trump’s “make American great again” slogan. When asked about the incident, Trump merely called the two attackers “passionate.”
Donald Trump makes no attempt to distance himself from this base. In many cases, a candidate’s supporters are a reflection of the candidate himself. After all, he or she represents their interests, and these are the issues that Trump is very transparent about—from his hateful comments about Mexican immigrants, to black folks, women, and gay people.
Sadly, because president Obama has done such a poor job as president, you won't see another black president for generations!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 25, 2014
It’s not just about making America great. While the #BlackLivesMatter protests work to raise awareness about America’s savage inequalities, this offers a distorted mirror image of that campaign—by taking power away from the already marginalized.
2) Insulting journalists
One of the worst and most boring political pundits on television is @krauthammer. A totally overrated clown who speaks without knowing facts— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2015
Donald Trump is known for attacking journalists who dare criticize him. Stephen Hayes, Jonah Goldberg, Megyn Kelly, and George Will are just a few of the columnists and journalists who have earned Trump’s ire on Twitter. This is why the Huffington Post announced that all Trump coverage would be relegated to the Entertainment section of their site, rather than the Politics vertical. If he wants to run a media circus, he’ll be treated like a sideshow.
And while the POTUS is not always required to play nice with the media—after all, President Obama hasn’t always had a sunny relationship with the press—there is something to be said for decorum. The press is a critical aspect of American democracy, and calling them “dummies” and “losers” is hardly presidential—and doesn’t bode well for future relations between the White House and the media. White House press conferences are often serious, tense affairs where tough questions are asked—an important tool for accountability.
But if Trump’s reaction to criticism on Twitter is any indication of what his presidency would be like, it would be a rough term.
Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest -and you all know it! Please don't feel so stupid or insecure,it's not your fault— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 9, 2013
David Brooks at the New York Times recently wrote a piece on Trump, “Donald Trump’s Allure: Ego as Ideology.” Of him, Brooks writes:
The times are perfect for Donald Trump. He’s an outsider, which appeals to the alienated. He’s confrontational, which appeals to the frustrated. And, in a unique 21st-century wrinkle, he’s a narcissist who thinks he can solve every problem, which appeals to people who in challenging times don’t feel confident in their understanding of their surroundings and who crave leaders who seem to be.
Trump’s egotism is certainly evident. According to CNN’s David Gergen, “he is self-isolated, distrustful, and deeply angry,” the markings of a true narcissist. And while studies reveal that some narcissists make good leaders, there are inevitable consequences that come along with them. Asays the Harvard Business Review: “Perceived threats can trigger rage. Achievements can feed feelings of grandiosity.”
Donald Trump’s Twitter account is indicative of this dark side of narcissism, with Trump hate-tweeting Megyn Kelly—just because the Fox News correspondent dared to ask him questions he didn’t like. As Gergen reminds us, “a candidate who stays up well past 3am writing vengeful tweets about Megyn Kelly is not the man the country will want answering the red phone at that hour.”
4) Celebrity feuds
Robert Pattinson should not take back Kristen Stewart. She cheated on him like a dog & will do it again–just watch. He can do much better!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2012
Sometimes Trump takes a break from insulting journalists and politicians, taking potshots at celebrities instead. From Katy Perry to Rosie O’Donnell, his opinions are usually misogynistic, but his obsession with starting celebrity feuds reveals something more than your run-of-the-mill sexism. And although it ties back to Trump’s deep need to be the center of attention, there’s something else at work here—and that is his unbridled antagonism.
Donald Trump loves to start fights—the more high-profile, the better. That might be a great way to generate headlines, but it’s awful in terms of leadership. Building and maintaining relationships is a vital part of one’s presidency, and it’s difficult to imagine a person like Trump being able to negotiate and communicate with leaders of the world he may not personally “like.” Especially if they’re women.
5) Co-signing his ignorant fan base
If one ever has any doubt about the kind of base Trump caters to, one needn’t look too hard. He elevates their voices often on his Twitter page, through retweets and engagements that shine a spotlight on the bottom feeders of the Internet. In another universe, that might not be such a bad thing—if only those voices were not even more racist and sexist than Trump himself. By publicly cosigning such tweets, Trump makes the statement that he not only thinks hateful humor is funny, but condones this kind of language and thinking.
Trump’s “silent majority” doesn’t actually seem too silent, as he is providing a platform for hate speech, which the ADL has already condemned.
6) Fear-mongering foreign policy
Markets are crashing – all caused by poor planning and allowing China and Asia to dictate the agenda. This could get very messy! Vote Trump.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 24, 2015
The only thing, it seems, that Trump thinks is more dangerous than immigrants is China. He’s been ranting about the dangers of China since 2011, when he said of the Chinese: “They’re not our friends. They’re looking to strip us of everything they can strip us of.” When he announced his run for president in June, he spent much of the speech ranting how China is “killing us” economically.
This is a prime directive of Trump’s campaign for the presidency. Playing to the frustration and fear of his audience, Trump paints foreign policy as a dangerous world where America could be overthrown at any moment—a mess that only he can save us from. Whether it’s based in fear of illegal immigration or in of foreign nations surpassing the United States, the last thing Americans need is more paranoia.
7) Insulting the competition
I wish good luck to all of the Republican candidates that traveled to California to beg for money etc. from the Koch Brothers. Puppets?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 2, 2015
Donald Trump spends about as much time insulting his rivals and other Republicans as he does tearing down women. Time magazine even has a list of 19 GOP members he has insulted, from Jeb and George Bush to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). He famously criticized Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for not being a true war hero.
Although he’s right about the Koch brothers, Trump doesn’t understand that separating himself in this way sets a pretty ominous tone for his presidency. His confrontational stance resonates with his followers—especially on social media—but his willingness to throw other Republicans under the bus sends the message that he’s not in the race to merely “play the game.” What might look like a man who speaks truth to power is likely more indicative of someone who is willing to burn bridges, no matter the cost.
While all this makes for an entertaining (if shocking) Twitter feed, it makes for a pretty scary presidency. American politics seeks, and often fails, to find common ground and make compromise. But who is going to compromise with President Donald Trump when he’s called everyone in the world a “cow” or a “loser?”
8) Rants about political correctness
So many "politically correct" fools in our country. We have to all get back to work and stop wasting time and energy on nonsense!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 8, 2015
One thing that Donald Trump is rabid about as a problem in America is so-called “political correctness.” In the first GOP debate, Trump’s line about “not having time” for political correctness is what earned him the most applause. White men like Trump are tired, it seems, of having to refrain from using racist, sexist language, and Trump sees the burden of being “PC” as one too inconvenient for him to carry.
But this perspective is unpresidential—and inhumane—in many ways. Political correctness is not, as Trump and people like him would believe, the “thought police.” In many ways, speech is freer than it has ever been. But when the guise of free speech begins to encompass the protection of blatantly sexist, homophobic, and racist words and actions, we must evaluate the implications of the consequences on a wider scale, especially when they lead to racist violence.
But Trump would rather ignore what it’s like to be black or gay in America, as well as the greater realities of discrimination. While claiming to represent a “silent majority,” Trump silences the vocal minority when it comes to far-reaching and foundational aspects of human rights. No president can represent every single American, but a president that actively rejects the humanity of huge numbers of the population is dangerous.
9) Taking back America
New Reuters Poll just came out and has me at 32%, highest number yet.The silent majority is back and we will MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2015
One of the scariest parts of Trump’s campaign is his slogan: Make America Great Again. If it were just “Make America Great,” the connotations would be much less foul. But the America that Donald Trump dreams of is the same one that the Tea Party longs for when they say they want to “take America back.”
Trump claims not to be a politician, but Trump does exactly what politicians do: He says what he believes his audience wants to hear, and a quick perusal of the #MakeAmericaGreatAgain hashtag reveals the kind of supporters to which Trump caters. This hashtag dreams of a country whose highest office isn’t held by a black man, an America without Mexicans, and a world with silent, smiling women. This America is one where rich white men like Trump are on top—at the expense of everyone else.
Where in the US Constitution does it say "US citizens shall pay illegal aliens to live in America"????— Adam D. Brown (@aduanebrown) August 16, 2015
Maybe social media is the window to the soul. Maybe not. But if Trump’s Twitter account is a reflection of who he is, then the vision of Trump’s America is a scary one indeed.
Olivia Cole is an author and blogger, contributing to the Huffington Post, xoJane, and others. The sequel to her debut novel is due out this year.
Photo via iprimages/Flickr (CC BY ND 2.0)