Donald Trump cannot stand to not be the center of attention. He has been chasing ever-greater fame since the 1980’s. One would think that being the President of these United States would temper his need to constantly seek attention, but he cannot help himself. Unfortunately for him, he also manages to damage himself politically, charging into battle without thinking like Internet meme Leeroy Jenkins.
Basically, Trump needs to get off Twitter. Of course he should continue to leverage social media to bypass the mainstream media filter and communicate directly with his supporters and the American people generally. I got into politics when the Internet was new, and candidates have been using their campaign websites and (for the last decade) social media accounts to get their message out. But Trump himself should not be managing the accounts. He is too erratic and too prone to shooting from the hip.
It is astonishing to me that some people really think that Trump will lose in 2020 if he stops his childish trolling on Twitter. But we have to look at who is reading him and how it is affecting the American people. Trump’s most dedicated supporters – the ones who love it when he “owns the libs” on social media – are not going anywhere. Their enthusiasm will not dip if he stops trolling. But there are more people to think about than his own base: The moderates who Trump needs to win swing states but are turned off by his childishness, and the Democrats who are enraged and highly motivated every time he opens up his iPhone to “own” them.
This leads me to Trump’s foolish tweets about “The Squad.” I do not think what Trump said was necessarily racist, but that the President is a dunderhead. He is not a good communicator, and if your staff or high-level supporters are constantly explaining what you “really meant,” that is evidence of your lack of communication skills. Had he been more disciplined and focused in his tweets, such as singling out Ilhan Omar and her lack of gratitude for the nation that took her in as a refugee, he could have made his point without looking like a racist. The Democrats would have screamed bloody murder anyway, but he would not have damaged himself.
What did his “go back where you came from” tweets accomplish? Nothing good. It unified the Democrats against Trump at a time when they were fighting with each other, it provoked yet more divisive arguments about him within the Republican Party, and it turned the attention of the American people from the radical nature of “The Squad” and diverted attention from a Leftist terrorist who violently attacked an immigrant detention center. But, again, that is the point, isn’t it? Donald Trump cannot stand it when the attention of the world is not focused on him.
Trump has nothing to lose if he tones it down, and quite a bit to gain. Trump can still “be Trump” without stepping on every rake he can find. But there is a more basic issue here: The President of these United States needs to behave professionally. I have given up all hope of Trump holding to the higher standard of being presidential, but there is no reason he cannot be a professional. Trump is not a reality TV star, in a featured match at WrestleMania, or even a candidate. He is the President of these United States. It is long past time for him to start acting like it.