Politics 2.0 and Twitter: How He Did It

“You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young, and beautiful, piece of ass.”

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best…They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists…”

“Ariana Huffington is unattractive, both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man – he made a good decision.”

What do all of these quotes have in common? If you haven’t already caught on, they were all said by the current President of the United States, Donald Trump.  How did a man filled with sexist and racist ideals that go against everything America is said to stand for come to power and become the highest political figure in the United States? Read on to find out (hint: don’t forget to thank Twitter for this one)!

Trump formally announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015, while holding a campaign rally and speech at Trump Tower in New York City.  Within this speech, Trump debuted his campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”  Most Americans (including myself) did not take this announcement seriously, assuming it was a sort of publicity stunt for himself and his brands.  Ladbrokes, a betting company based in Britain, offered 150/1 odds of Trump becoming president.

Trump announces that he will be running for president: June 16, 2015. 

Fast forward to campaign season, a time that Donald Trump began using social media to further his political agenda in a unprecedented way. Presidents in the past, such as Obama, have leveraged their social media presence to gain support.  Backed by a skilled social media team, Obama utilized various outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, and his own site, in order to further his campaign.  However, the comments and posts released by Obama and his team on these sites alluded an air of professionalism.  He made his followers feel informed and involved in the campaign, keeping his site appropriate for all visitors, and void of lewd remarks.

Obama’s social media presence contrasts starkly with Trump’s. Prior to announcing his candidacy, Trump was no stranger to social media. His Twitter account was very active, and he shared his unsolicited opinion on everything from Diet Coke to Robert Pattinson and Kristen’s Stewarts relationship.

One of the highlights from Trump’s pre-presidency Twitter.

Once he announced that he would be running for president, it would be expected that Trump would replace his superficial and rude tweets with more professional tweets, in order to further his accountability and campaign. Right? Wrong.  If anything, Trump’s tweets became more outlandish, as he blamed rapes occurring in the military on the fact that men and women were put together, and called all polls that were against him “fake news.” For those of you wondering, Trump’s reckless Twitter behavior did not stop once he was elected, as he tweeted “SEE YOU IN COURT” at Hillary Clinton on February 9, 2017.

Despite, or possibly because of, Trumps polarizing tweets, he gained a leading following during the 2016 election.  While Clinton had around 14 million followers, Trump had double this amount, at 28 million followers.  Trump also was more active on Twitter, as he had posted 32,800 tweets in the midst of election season, while Clinton had posted just 7,260 tweets.

In contrast to the professional way in which Hillary portrayed herself on Twitter, posting images from rallies, her own quotes, and the occasional retweet of negative coverage received by Trump, Trump relied on a more assertive style, making sure to always lead with his personal opinion.  At one point, he released a tweet stating that “Obama will go down as the worst president ever” and at other points he went as far as to repost articles from white supremacist organizations.

One of the many examples found on Trump’s Twitter account of him sharing a strong opinion. 

Although it is hard to say exactly how Trump’s brash Twitter presence led him to gain double the amount of followers as Clinton and eventually helped him to win the election, it’s clear that the personal touch offered by Trump’s social media presence definitely helped him to grow his audience.  While this stream of consciousness style that Trump utilized offended many voters, it made others feel closer to the now-president, as if he is just like any other American.

It is impossible to say the direction that politics will go in the next four years.  It’s quite possible that the next president of the United States will practive Obama’s professional manner on social media in order to secure votes, and it is equally possible that he or she will follow Trump’s path, and engage in sensationalized tweets to gain grounding.  Given the current political climate of the U.S., I wouldn’t even be surprised if we end up reporting to “Dictator” Trump in four years.  Clearly, in the age of Politics 2.0, anything is possible.

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