Well, I got to the end of my first week engaging on Twitter and it wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. I was critically aware that it can be a toxic place, especially when discussing politics. I felt a little like a lamb to the slaughter, as I put my toe in the water. Being the kind of guy who is noted for always trying to do the right thing, my fears surrounded etiquette and not doing something I shouldn't. I just decided to wade in and be damned,
I began with Trump himself and the White House as they were fertile ground on which to engage. The good news is that I went all week getting some very positive feedback and even some followers, so for that I am encouraged. Then today I got my first taste of profanity for a tweet I sent out in response to Trump's Healthcare Plan. There was some back and forth of messages, then I got told to F...ck off. I think it was because I had the audacity to criticise the great leader and mention that taboo 'The ACA'. It was like a red rag to a bull and profanity abounded. I came in peace with just the power of the written word. I was polite, said I respected his views however misguided, wished him a good weekend, but he just couldn't let it go.
In many ways, it is what this journey is all about. Trying to understand 'The Cult of Trump'. It appears to me having sent lots of messages, that dry British humour is often lost, as supporters effectively act as if they are happy to take a twitter bullet for their great leader. The one thing that jumped out at me, was the religious right. The constant referral to him doing God's work. What happened to 'Thou shalt not kill?', not to mention his moral bankruptcy and lack of integrity. I was deeply troubled by that. What is really strange to me, is the motivation for the unquestioning loyalty his supporters have for him. I can understand big business standing behind him, alongside bankers, as he hands them tax breaks to buy back stock and deregulates to allow the likes of oil and gas to do business with little or no oversight. But what's in it for normal Joe and the wealth of support he has from the non college educated..It is they that are damaged most by his outrageous policies. It is them that will be stripped of healthcare and it's them that are hurting most under the Covid-19 debacle. I just simply don't get it, I can only put it down to social media and his direct unfiltered messaging via Twitter.
It has to be said, that looking at the content out there, the right seems to have a better ground game. They have really embraced the power of social media to mainline Trump's message direct to his base, without the inconvenience of fact checking. They have unashamedly embraced doctored video and misleading content. An interesting piece by CNN, asking Trump supporters about these fake videos, saw people go from saying the examples weren't fake, to stating it really didn't matter when shown evidence to the contrary They agreed with the messaging regardless. I was shocked, but on reflection, Trump has carefully cultivated his audience as if his presidency is an episode of 'The Apprentice' He is not prepared to offer up any criticism of anyone praising him, regardless of their sometimes abhorrent views. Effectively, this has provided indirect endorsement to groups that previously were on the fringes of the law and mainstream society. Social media provides a largely unmoderated outlet for anyone with an account, to say what they like, regardless of truth. Many men and women have given the ultimate sacrifice, so that we might all have the right to free speech. I would defend that right with all that I am, so I offer any of my views, with respect, whilst being mindful and respectful of others. I have vowed never to use profanity, regardless of how much comes my way.
So what's the aim? I believe that the United States is in a perilous state and by default, this has an impact around the world. Trump has taken an aggressive nationalist position, but more than that, he has infected Washington with a new type of politics. I like to call it 'The 'Cult of Trump'. If you look at Trump's path to the presidency, the primary process, saw the Republicans establishment opposed to his nomination, but Trump had cleverly drove around them and infected the grass roots with Trumpism. The republican establishment were absolutely caught off guard and had no choice but to fall into line. It was in a way genius, he effectively took the Republican Party hostage without a shot fired. So my position, is that I want to try and make a difference, as a citizen of the world.
Twitter, is great and it truly demands messaging discipline. The question for me is, how good am I at messaging and can I get any of that messaging to gain traction with less than 40 days to go. I am not arrogant enough to feel I can make any significant difference. However, I hope it makes me a better writer, a better exponent of social media messaging and most important, better informed. I'll no doubt be moving on to Brexit after the US election, but for now, my focus is on the US. As you can see from the video and image content on this site, I am reasonably proficient at creating video and visual messaging. This site allows me to step beyond the character limitations of Twitter and express myself in a little more detail for anyone who might be interested. How valuable that will be to anyone is unclear, but what I am trying to offer, is a view from the outside. I am not coming to the party without a detailed knowledge of US politics and it's quirks, which from here in the UK are interesting to say the least and that will form the basis of my next post.