OP-ED: Twitter And Trump: A Guide to Stay Focused on What Really Matters in the Political Debate
Ding. Ding. “BREAKING NEWS: Trump tweets again…”
When is the last time you checked your phone, and it wasn’t a CNN, New York Times, or LA Times notification about Trump’s outrageous tweets? Nowadays it seems like Trump broke the Internet.
With Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Caribbean nations in complete devastation from several major hurricanes, U.S. border issues and the threats from North Korea, #45 still finds a way to divert the public from what truly matters.
If you missed it back in 2017 – NFL players joined quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s silent protest against the oppression of people of color in the United States and ongoing issues with police brutality by either taking a knee or locking arms during the national anthem.
In true Trump fashion, POTUS hugely misinterpreted a symbolic gesture.
He confused a stand for justice with an act of treason and betrayal. He then condemned the players, telling NFL owners to “Get that son of a bitch off the field…he’s fired!” This statement engulfed every mainstream news outlet.
For many NFL players, taking a knee means standing up for people in this country who have been treated differently because of the color of their skin. Impressive as the President is in stirring the pot of controversy, one of his greatest stretches was making the peaceful protest seem like a slap in the face to veterans, anti-patriotism, and anti-military support.
A few days after his remarks, on September 30 Trump criticized Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz’s leadership and kicked Puerto Rico while they were down by tweeting:
Not to mention how incredibly puerile his tweet is, Trump prompted the nation to discuss his temper tantrum over negative feedback from Mayor Cruz instead of brainstorming disaster relief support and strategies. Today, Trump is threatening to limit federal and military help in the hurricane-battered U.S. territory even though Puerto Rico is still in significant need of assistance.
Though I do not think Trump is the sharpest tool in the shed and is arguably mentally unfit, I do believe he knows exactly what he is doing when he tweets. He takes advantage of his platform with every tweet, press conference, and public announcement. Many political elites like Trump strategically choose frames to paint the picture that they want the American public to see. With the Kaepernick case, Trump created loyalty versus treason narrative. With Puerto Rico, he diverted attention from tragedy and turned the blame of lack of hurricane relief on Mayor Cruz even though she was doing everything she could with the limited resources she had.
Trump, however, is not the only one at fault. The media machine is also to blame. The media focus on a small number of issues, such as Trump’s tweets or Hollywood scandals, and makes them breaking news.
As a result, the public believes that the particular stories aired are the most important topics even though there are more critical events taking place and in desperate need of coverage.
“Don’t Tweet Every Thought”~ Michelle Obama
As residents of the country, we have to be conscious consumers and see past the bullshit that Trump does and says to provoke a reaction from us. Instead of the massive media coverage of Trump’s tweets and press conferences, newscasters and journalists should be covering the discussion on health care, hurricane relief initiatives, and threats from North Korea.
This starts with us.
Have you ever heard the argument that the press “gives the people what they want”? Well, this is partially true. The media sets the agenda, but we can demand from the news we want. Some of us have done this already by starting our own trends and hashtags on Twitter. We initiate the conversation and eventually, mainstream news catches on. Another strategy is to utilize the Internet and ask Google hella questions! Pay attention to policies and positions and search them up.
We need to adopt an aware and responsive stance when we read about findings, which can be done by fact-checking – especially Trump. Last but not least, don’t be afraid to read outside of your comfort zone. I know that most of us swear by CNN and The NY Times but sometimes reading from local and unconventional news sources gives us viewpoints we would have never thought of.
Rather than becoming distracted by the scandal and hysteria surrounding the reality-TV inspired presidency, we should become emboldened to push for change in politics that we can have control over. At the end of the day, our democracy is not controlled by our politicians, but by we, the people.