How Far is Too Far?

In considering the traits that make up a leader one may list the following: strength, willingness to take action, boldness, determination, honesty, compassion for others, selfless; the list goes on. However, when it comes to making a great leader, these characteristics must have an even balance to make sure that leaders are not too dominating, or the opposite, too soft. 


In regards to the past almost four years, Americans have gotten to know their current President very well. Unlike most presidents before, Trump is known to be a very vocal representative. Through the use of social media, Trump has tweeted out some considerably bold statements and comments during the course of his presidency. His posts are commonly controversial, and in some instances, false. However, at the same time some of his posts may actually benefit the country. 


In a New York Times investigation published in November of last year, Trump “retweeted 217 accounts that have not been verified by Twitter,” and several others that “have published conspiracy or fringe content, including more than two dozen that have since been suspended by Twitter. Back in July, the House of Representatives voted to censure him for “racist comments” he had tweeted a few days before the decision. Trump’s use of social media has done a great number of negative things to his overall popularity, and his advisers have warned him about some of the things he puts out there. 


The fact that Trump has the guts to post such things out for the public eye to see does show that he has a great deal of boldness within him; however, the fact that his contributions to the internet are not always true can cause a major loss in citizen trust. The beliefs on reasons why he posts what he does vary. A very common belief is that Trump craves the media’s attention. And through some of his comments, this idea can be very convincing. Regardless of his reasoning, most of what he posts does not help his overall popularity. 


According to Rolling Stone, in January of 2018, Trump tweeted, “North Korea Leader Kim Jon Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”


By poking at other countries in this fashion, a pot is stirred that probably shouldn’t be. Comments like this one can possibly anger countries, and make them more susceptible to conflicts with others.


Not only has he posted risky things like this, but he has also blocked individuals online for posting comments he didn’t agree with or particularly like. In fact, a recent case affirmed that Trump engaged in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination, and it was concluded that he had violated the First Amendment after he had blocked Plaintiffs for posting critical messages about him and his policies. The Plaintiffs sued him for this. 


Despite the negatives that social media has had on our president, some would say that it has benefited him significantly. George Lakoff, an author and Professor Emeritus of California University, Berkeley, describes that “Trump uses social media as a weapon to control the news cycle. It works like a charm. His tweets are tactical rather than substantive.” Lakoff even created a chart to further demonstrate his point that categorizes Trump’s tweets into four categories: preemptive framing, diversion, deflection, and trial balloon. 


Lakoff describes preemptive framing as “being the first to frame an idea.” Diversion is described as “divert attention from real issues.” Deflection is an “attack messenger, charge direction.” Finally, the trial balloon is released to “test public reaction.”


Trump has also been known to claim that his social media is personal, rather than strictly ran by politics and for show. By posting these sometimes outrageous things online, he is really putting himself out there. In other words, he is not being censored by the government, which allows the people to get to know the real Trump. Often, politics are hidden during their campaigns and time in office to avoid flaws being exposed to the public eye. However, with Trump, people can see clearly how open he is about his opinions, which helps us to fully get to know who our president is.


In addition to knowing who our president is, Trump tweets also give the public insight into why he does the things he does and we get fast updates on what is going on. These two facts allow citizens to not be left in the dark. 


A little over a week ago Trump tweeted, “General Qassem Soleimani has killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more…but got caught! He was directly and indirectly responsible for the death of millions of people, including the recent large number of PROTESTERS killed in Iran herself…” 


This statement is in fact, true, as Soleimani played a crucial role in initiating a violent response against protesters. Trump’s use of the media also enables him to get the word out quickly. 


Soon after Iran launched missiles at the two military bases, Trump tweeted, “All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.”


Trump’s use of social media may have an effect on the future of the United States Presidency. By being this bold on his accounts with information and opinions, he might inspire other politicians to take on a similar boldness and put out the truth of who they really are and what is really going on. 


There are really many ways to look at Trump’s usage of social media over the past years. From the information gathered, I would conclude that boldness is a great characteristic of a leader. However, in being bold, it is also important to be truthful. When it comes to leadership, especially as president, your words can cause some significant damage if they are not properly censored. There needs to be an even balance of directness and silence when it comes to certain issues. Words can either help or hurt people, and Trump has certainly experienced both of those cases with his words.