Opinion: Trump needs to leave Twitter behind

Nicholas Hunter

President-elect Donald Trump’s use of Twitter was unprecedented for a presidential candidate this past election season. It serves as more than just a promotional tool for himself and his next campaign destination; it is his direct line to supporters — a 140-character statement on every issue he sees fit to comment on.

Trump has never been a man to shy away from strong language. But when the added attention and pressure of running for president came, he pushed back even louder. Throughout his campaign, Trump never hesitated to call out any detractors with aggression and passion.

During the Republican primaries, Trump opponents were subject to his constant Twitter storms, and he freely used Twitter to mock his opponents. He created nicknames for them, such as “Little” Marco Rubio, and “Lyin” Ted Cruz. Trump even took to Twitter to defend the size of his hands after a debate when Rubio made a joking comment about Trump having tiny hands.

Once Trump had sealed the Republican presidential nomination, he shifted his target to – as he called her – “Crooked” Clinton. Alongside his campaign rallies, Trump used Twitter to launch countless attacks on her personality, character, health and ability to serve as president. Sometimes they were standard criticisms in a heated political battle. However, they occasionally crossed offensive lines.

One Tweet in question was of an image of Clinton over a background of stacks of money, with the phrase “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” over top a six-pointed star. Many people believed that star was the Star of David — a common symbol for Judaism. Trump was accused of promoting anti-Semitism, and the initial response from his team was that it was supposed to resemble a police badge. Eventually, a new version of the image was posted, changing the star into a circle. No apology was ever issued.

Now, Trump is our president-elect. He still controls his own Twitter and not much has changed. While he is not using the platform to attack Clinton anymore, his new target has become the media. He has tweeted that the “failing” New York Times was unfair to him throughout the election, as well as accusing them of outright lying about him in some stories.

In response to Trump’s affinity for insulting opposition on Twitter, The New York Times has compiled a list of every person, country and organization he has criticized on Twitter, along with each thing he tweeted about them.

After looking through the list of insults Trump has hurled at seemingly every entity that isn’t an open supporter of his, one thing is clear: This man, the future president of the United States, should not stay on Twitter.

When Trump is president, his tweets will have a real impact. In fact, with his recent tweet about taking a phone call from the Taiwanese president, he may have already increased tensions between the U.S. and China. It isn’t acceptable for a future leader to be so reckless and impulsive on a platform like Twitter, where a statement he sees as a bluff can lead to conflict between him and other leaders.

It is easy to look at Twitter as Trump’s way of shouting into the void and to simply dismiss what he puts out there. But his tweets have already shown they make a real impact, and he must be held accountable for his words.

 

Nicholas Hunter is a columnist, contact him at [email protected]