The Achilles Heel which Plagues Donald Trump
Elon Musk provides a great opportunity to Donald Trump, but the former president seems to be foolishly refusing.
About two weeks ago when representatives of the serial-entrepreneur and world’s richest man, Elon Musk, and the board of directors at Twitter reached a compromise on a deal which would allow Musk to acquire complete ownership of the tech giant and take it private, numerous high-profile liberals reacted in sheer terror. This was largely due to the left’s authoritarian ideological strain which seeks to censor political opposition, as well as the fact that an open marketplace for dialogue and discussion online is a direct threat to the political success of the Democratic Party, given the continually decreasing popularity of its mainstream ideas.
There was something else though that many partisan American leftists specifically and gravely feared when news of Musk’s acquisition of Twitter broke, which was the potential of former President Trump’s return to the platform. Laughably pathetic petitions circulated the internet, begging Musk to keep Trump’s indefinite Twitter suspension intact. Many of them operated under the guise that the former president’s presence on the platform would “endanger Americans”, and of course cited the unrest on January 6th as their supposed evidence for such an allegation.
Well it appears that the childish whining of the censorious left, who is always hungry for more policing of speech online, was ineffective at changing the mind of Elon Musk. At a conference today, the Tesla CEO announced that, when he eventually has full control of Twitter, he will lift the ban on the former president. Musk called the original decision to enact the ban in the aftermath of the protests on January 6th “morally wrong and flat-out stupid”. He also added that he believed doing so “alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice”. When Musk eventually is granted full control of Twitter, he does not wish for permanent bans to be a politically-charged weapon for partisan actors, but rather something that is “extremely rare” and only reserved for “bots, or scam, spam accounts”.
As of now, neither former President Trump nor any of his spokespeople have commented on Musk’s plans to allow him back on Twitter. However just weeks ago, when asked about whether or not he would choose to return if Musk would permit it, Trump denied that he would ever use Twitter’s services again. Despite praising Musk and saying he “likes him alot”, Trump insisted that he would not be going back to Twitter as he was “disappointed by the way [he] was treated by” by Twitter’s censorious executives. The former president then plugged his own new social media start-up, Truth Social, and announced he would start directly posting to that platform very soon.
There is a glaring strategic flaw in Trump’s decision to willfully not return to Twitter and remain exclusively on Truth Social, which is that he is obviously limiting his content’s reach to individuals who are not already within his most supportive of fanbases. While the concept behind Truth Social was certainly ambitious, its share of the digital media’s marketplace is exponentially less than that of Twitters. A quick look at each of the social media publication’s mobile app metrics displays this perfectly, with Truth Social only having received about fifty-eight thousand online reviews on Apple’s App Store, and Twitter receiving almost six million. And while exact interactive measurements regarding Truth Social are difficult to come by due to the app’s youth, surely the brand new platform’s number of daily users does not come close to the over 200 million which Twitter enjoys.
On top of the inherent difficulties of launching a start-up company in a field which has been dominated by monopolies for the better part of a decade, Truth Social’s primary marketing appeal, which is to act as a hub for free speech and open discussion, is no longer as potent a selling point in the aftermath of Musk’s acquisition of the already well-established Twitter and his announced commitment to free-speech principles being integrated there. This could explain why following the news of Twitter’s new ownership, the stock value of Trump Media & Technology Group, which Truth Social falls under, dropped by a gut-wrenching 13%.
This is not to belittle the value of the former president operating his own social media company, which certainly has its perks: he could provide exclusive content to his most-loyal supporters there, and he would have an opportunity to poll and further understand the thinking of everyday voters who make up his and the GOP’s base. However Trump is already highly skilled at both those things, so while interacting on Truth Social will not hurt him, it should not be seen by him and his staff as a top priority.
A return to Twitter, which has an infinitely larger and more politically diverse base of users would be far more beneficial to Trump than a strategy of exclusivity in favor of his own platform. The former president dominated everyday political discourse through Twitter in the past, in spite of the politically biased algorithmic practices behind the senses and the blatant censorship that particularly increased over the past two years. If Musk’s vision of an apolitical infrastructure, one not plagued with covert partisan actors and inconsistent standards for content moderation, is implemented, then Trump’s reach on the tech giant’s platform would undoubtedly be even larger than it was during and before his presidency.
If Trump remains hell-bent on his decision to remain off of Twitter, whether it be either out of spite towards the company’s name following its’ executives past treatment of him or a sense of competitive pride fueling a pipe-dream of his that Truth Social will be able to compete with Twitter anytime soon, it will be a large mistake for the populist-right movement that he continues to be the face of, and will surely decrease his electoral hopes if he so chooses to run again for the presidency in 2024. It will be another showing of Trump’s achilles heel; which is that his brazen pride, unshakable ego, and hyper-competitive drive can act as his greatest gift, but also his most damning turn-off. While Trump’s bravado-filled behavior, over-the-top and unnecessary social media spats against members of the press, and overall unhingeness work to rile up and delight those who make up his base, they often have the opposite effect on disaffected voters who find themselves somewhere in the middle between the pro-Trump base on the right, and the center-left (not that almost any elected Democrats can accurately be described as “centrist” anymore).
If the former president wishes to maximize his chances of regaining control of the White House in 2024, it would serve him right strategically to put his personal feelings aside and take advantage of the opportunity that Elon Musk is granting him, a return to direct communication access with hundreds of millions of Twitter users every single day. Along with that, he should maintain his stances on key policy issues and continue to bolster the emerging right-wing populist movement which his 2016 campaign served as the catalyst for, but also learn to regulate his most controversial impulses in a manner that can please his most die-hard supporters when the time is appropriate, yet not serve as ideal content for his Democratic opponent’s next campaign ad.
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