It is not unusual for a president to use a contemporary medium of communication to directly address the American public. Franklin D. Roosevelt had his “fireside chats” to reassure and ease the fears of the American people throughout the Great Depression and World War II. John F. Kennedy was the first president to use live television as his way to reach the public. Today, we have President Trump and his Twitter account. The president’s use of Twitter offers valuable transparency but becomes dangerous when he uses the website to spread irrational ideas.
Through Twitter, President Trump is able to quickly communicate to millions of people across the world. The tweets give us direct insight into the mind of the president. Through the tweets, we receive messages from the president that are not filtered through messengers like counselor Kellyanne Conway or Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Whenever a story in the media bothers or pleases Trump, he makes sure to let us know. However, according to an NBC-WSJ poll, 69 percent of Americans considered Trump’s use of Twitter as a negative thing. In a Quinnipiac poll, 64 percent of Americans said that they want the president to shut down his Twitter account. In a country divided, here is one issue on which people can agree.
But the president’s prolific use of Twitter itself is not the issue. The issue is when the president uses Twitter to attack companies like Nordstrom or to address delicate foreign policy issues, such as a tweet from Feb. 3 that read, “Iran is playing with fire – they don’t appreciate how ‘kind’ President Obama was to them. Not me!”
Foreign leaders pay attention to what the U.S. president says, and an impulsive tweet has the power to embarrass the United States and cause a foreign policy crisis. Considering how Trump’s tweets are sometimes riddled with typos, it is logical to assume that no one is reviewing the tweets before they are sent. Here is where there is cause for concern. Rather than allowing his advisers to take his thoughts and carefully express them to the public, Trump simply tweets out his opinions on complicated policies in a condensed 140 characters.
Short of causing a crisis, liberals and conservatives benefit from Trump’s use of Twitter. Liberals can use Trump’s tweets as time-stamped evidence of the president’s inconsistencies. Conservatives, meanwhile, can enjoy this direct line of communication to the Republican president. Regardless of how you feel about Trump’s Twitter use, it does make checking Twitter interesting in the morning.
Kevin Bustamante is a junior majoring in political science and creative writing.