Debating the World is a Pi Comment column focusing on the big debates and events occurring in the world today, reflecting on their impact on society. This time, India Crawley digs through Trump’s treasure trove of tweets from 2018, reflecting on their serious and not so serious implications.
As we move into the new year, it is important to look forward with hope and resolution. Still, it is also worth reflecting on the year gone by, with its highs and lows, and taking note of the lessons which can be learnt from it, that may end up being useful in 2019. Across the pond, the year has certainly not been mundane but, before delving into that, it must be noted that there has been a change in the way that the Commander-in-Chief has reached the American people over the years. The first TV President was technically Eisenhower, but it was JFK’s successful use of the medium which garnered him his reputation. Similarly, whilst Obama was the first Twitter President, he did not engage with his supporters to the same extent that Trump has been able to. It has become a key medium in connecting him to his base, especially in the lead up to elections, as we saw in the November mid-terms this year. In honour of the tumultuous arena that was American politics this year, I think it wise to look through this medium of Twitter to reflect on 2018. I have thus compiled a list of Trump’s tweets, one for every month of the year, to recap the key events that have plagued news feeds for 12 long months.
Nothing demonstrates the cyclical nature of time more than Trump’s tweet about the dispute over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy that led to a government shutdown that lasted three days in January 2018. Arguments over DACA would plague the government all year, so this was a rather prescient moment, especially given the ongoing shutdown we are currently working through. Trump responded with wit to rival Wilde and humility to boot with this tweet:
This is the One Year Anniversary of my Presidency and the Democrats wanted to give me a nice present. #DemocratShutdown
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 20, 2018
Trump is not best known for his sensitive remarks after a national tragedy, and February further exemplified his soft touch. On the 14thFebruary this year, a gunman opened fire in a high school in Florida, killing 17 students and staff members, and injuring 17 others. After a tweet defending the NRA as ‘Great People and Great American Patriots’, later that week he went on to rant about how the only way to protect children from being shot is to, of course, bring more guns into close proximity to where they are learning. Of particular note in this tweet is Trump’s grasp of English grammar – I cannot wait to meet these ‘very weapons talented teachers’ he so proudly bolsters.
….If a potential “sicko shooter” knows that a school has a large number of very weapons talented teachers (and others) who will be instantly shooting, the sicko will NEVER attack that school. Cowards won’t go there…problem solved. Must be offensive, defense alone won’t work!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 22, 2018
Trump continued March much in the same vein as February, discussing the contentious issue of gun control and the Second Amendment. However, he also discusses something vital to an understanding of a Trump presidential legacy: his impact on the federal judiciary. His appointment of over 85 federal judges in his tenure, including two conservative Supreme Court judges, will have crucial long-term impacts on U.S. public policy for years to come. His promise to install conservative justices to federal courts was an important issue to much of his support base in 2016, so fulfilling this is a huge success of his administration. Nonetheless, his tone when revealing these successes is so smug that it makes it something one doesn’t wish to congratulate him on.
THE SECOND AMENDMENT WILL NEVER BE REPEALED! As much as Democrats would like to see this happen, and despite the words yesterday of former Supreme Court Justice Stevens, NO WAY. We need more Republicans in 2018 and must ALWAYS hold the Supreme Court!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2018
The infamous fire at Trump Tower took place in April, where one resident lost his life, led to huge public embarrassment for the President when he prematurely tweeted this:
Fire at Trump Tower is out. Very confined (well built building). Firemen (and women) did a great job. THANK YOU!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 7, 2018
before the news of the death had been released. In typical Trump fashion, his response was gloating rather than tactful. This person’s response is particularly enjoyable:
You sound as though you built it with your own (tiny) hands.
Your lack of self awareness and empathy for the man who died and the firefighters who were injured, because you did not install sprinklers, is truly astounding.
— Nicholas Miller (@nicholasrmiller) April 8, 2018
Trump’s policy announcements sound like teaser trailers for a theatrical release. This tweet in May was a reference to China’s announcement that it would cut import duty on passenger cars, amid easing tensions over trade between the US and China. As of December this year, the tariffs are lowering even further, a success for the Trump administration in trade relations with the country.
There will be big news coming soon for our great American Autoworkers. After many decades of losing your jobs to other countries, you have waited long enough!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 23, 2018
I can’t help but think that this tweet was accidentally sent and perhaps it was meant to be a message to Republican congressional leaders? It seems odd to highlight private strategy on a public forum, but then Trump’s messages are often confusing and misdirected. The importance of the tweet is evident in the fact that it is completely capitalised, meaning no one can miss it coming through their feed.
HOUSE REPUBLICANS SHOULD PASS THE STRONG BUT FAIR IMMIGRATION BILL, KNOWN AS GOODLATTE II, IN THEIR AFTERNOON VOTE TODAY, EVEN THOUGH THE DEMS WON’T LET IT PASS IN THE SENATE. PASSAGE WILL SHOW THAT WE WANT STRONG BORDERS & SECURITY WHILE THE DEMS WANT OPEN BORDERS = CRIME. WIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2018
July marked a tumultuous relationship between the President and the European Union. His first tweet in early July depicts a strained relationship, whilst by the 26th day of this month, we see things getting back on track. An already tense association, due to Trump’s continued public support for Brexit, were made worse by the ongoing disputes over trade in 2018, causing further friction within NATO.
The European Union makes it impossible for our farmers and workers and companies to do business in Europe (U.S. has a $151 Billion trade deficit), and then they want us to happily defend them through NATO, and nicely pay for it. Just doesn’t work!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2018
Great to be back on track with the European Union. This was a big day for free and fair trade!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2018
No one can say that the President is uneducated in matters of U.S. history. His tweets in August over the Mueller investigation into Russian collusion in the 2016 election were filled to the brim with references to the Cold War’s ‘Red Scare’. Mueller’s investigation has seen 33 people and 3 companies pleading guilty or being arrested, as of January 2019, with the most recent occurrence being the sentencing of Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen. 2019 will most likely see the investigation direct its attention to the Trump administration itself, looking in particular at the sentencing of Paul Manafort (Trump’s former campaign chairman). Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani has recently told Fox News that an in-person interview with Trump would happen ‘over his dead body’, so whether or not official claims will come against the President is yet to be seen. One positive we can take from this entire debacle: President Trump has read an American history book.
Study the late Joseph McCarthy, because we are now in period with Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby! Rigged Witch Hunt!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2018
There is no way to recount 2018 in American politics without mentioning Brett Kavanaugh. His Senate confirmation hearings to fill the place of Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court, who retired earlier in the year, turned into a tribal battle between the Democrats and Republicans. After the hearing turned into an investigation into sexual harassment, it seemed extremely unlikely that the Senate would be able to continue with the confirmation. Yet, the Republican majority meant that Kavanaugh was confirmed by a narrow 50-48 vote in favour of the now-Justice at the beginning of October. Trump’s tweets throughout the investigation were extremely partisan and unflinchingly supportive of Kavanaugh, and the issue became extremely vital in terms of voter turnout in the November midterms.
The Brett Kavanaugh hearings for the future Justice of the Supreme Court are truly a display of how mean, angry, and despicable the other side is. They will say anything, and are only….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 4, 2018
Another key figure (perhaps a slight exaggeration) for the Trump administration in 2018 is FLOTUS, Melania Trump. The President’s tweet in October is referring to Melania’s visit to Africa to promote children’s welfare on her first major foreign trip by herself. After Trump’s awful comments in January 2017, calling Africa a ‘shithole’, this trip was seen as an attempt for the administration to heal divisions. She came under fire for donning a ‘colonial chic’ safari outfit in Kenya, and her visit was largely overshadowed by the ongoing dispute over Kavanaugh’s confirmations. On the trip, Melania herself acknowledged her husband’s tweets, saying: ‘I don’t always agree [with] what he tweets, and I tell him that’. You might want to tell him again, Melania, I’m not sure he heard you from New York.
Our country’s great First Lady, Melania, is doing really well in Africa. The people love her, and she loves them! It is a beautiful thing to see.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 4, 2018
November was an extremely busy time for Trump tweets. His endorsement of individual candidates almost always led to a victory for that individual, showing the importance of his social media presence in determining electoral prospects. This particular tweet saw an attack on the Democrat, Claire McCaskill, who went on to lose her Senate seat to Josh Hawley in November. Of particular note to her voters was her vote against the nomination of Kavanaugh, something which saw other Senate Democrats lose their seats too. His success on this forum is something the Democrats should be wary of in 2020; Trump is adept at steering the narrative in his favour using Twitter, a vital component of his apparent success.
No matter what she says, Senator Claire McCaskill will always vote against us and the Great State of Missouri! Vote for Josh Hawley – he will be a great Senator!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 5, 2018
And finally, a warm and heartfelt message from the president, wishing everyone, even those evil journalists who tell the country about mean things he has done, a Merry Christmas.
I hope everyone, even the Fake News Media, is having a great Christmas! Our Country is doing very well. We are securing our Borders, making great new Trade Deals, and bringing our Troops Back Home. We are finally putting America First. MERRY CHRISTMAS! #MAGA
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 25, 2018
There you have it! A brief sweep through the muddle that was 2018 in American politics. Here’s hoping that 2019 brings many more weird and wonderful tweets from the leader of the free world.