Missed Opportunities in Presidential Tweets

Brian Gongol

The true cost of anything is what you give up in order to get it. We usually apply this principle to things like measuring the value of our free time (see, for instance, the people who drive for Uber because they "have nothing better to do"), or to deciding whether to go to college or go straight into the workforce. But it also applies to choices that we make to either say things or leave things left unsaid.

There may be no greater example than the President's use of the bully pulpit. And President Trump is sacrificing a lot in his use of it -- particularly on his beloved Twitter account.

The President could wake up every morning and tweet "Good morning, America! Here's what I'm learning about today..." He could drive the national conversation on important ideas by inviting people to learn along with him.

He could wake up and tweet "Good morning, America! Here's a quote that will be on my mind today..." He could share a quotation from a famous American, living or dead, that adds some perspective to the issues of the day.

He could wake up and tweet "Good morning, America! Today, I hope you'll join me in honoring a great American..." He could make note of people doing great and honorable and noble things on the front lines of battle, or in classrooms, or in their communities, or anywhere else.

But he doesn't do those things. He tweets about "haters". He brags. He insults. He threatens. He complains about television shows. He openly threatens the balance of powers. And he does it with almost clockwork consistency, issuing a grievance nearly every morning in the early hours:

And now, he's gone so far as to pick a fight with a retailer because he doesn't like how they've treated his daughter.

It's easy to dismiss Twitter (and social media in general) as frivolous and superficial, but political leaders have always taken to the use of the newest available technologies to deliver their messages to the public. John F. Kennedy held televised press conferences. Franklin D. Roosevelt used radio broadcasts. Abraham Lincoln made innovative use of the telegraph. Benjamin Franklin was a prolific publisher. There should be little doubt they each would be on Twitter if they were with us in the modern day. (Have no doubt that Ben Franklin would tweet.)

Given the greatest pulpit in the world, though, President Donald Trump preaches grievances. He gives up the opportunity every single day to make America greater. What is the true cost of that?