Donald Trump is the President-elect of the United States. He has a twitter problem, one you have probably heard is a “distraction.” While there is great merit to the statement that he is using Twitter to distract people, we can not afford to ignore any action by this man. This is what happens to people when Trump attacks private citizens using the power of social media.
Remember Lauren Batchelder? She was a young woman who stood up to ask Trump a question at the “No Labels” event about a year ago and said that she didn’t believe he was a “friend to women.” Trump, because she dared ask that question said, “I knew I shouldn’t have picked her, I knew it.” He had interrupted her before she finished asking her question to say that he respects, loves, and cherishes women. Her complete question was asked eventually, and it had to do with equal pay and bodily autonomy for women. This single moment in Batchelder’s life became a year-long ordeal for her, despite her rejecting interviews until now.
Here is the video:
Then the following day, Trump’s attack began as a twitter-tantrum, not only directly attacking the teen but also accusing his opponent at the time, Jeb Bush (a fellow pro-life conservative) of “planting” her:
The arrogant young woman who questioned me in such a nasty fashion at No Labels yesterday was a Jeb staffer! HOW CAN HE BEAT RUSSIA & CHINA?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2015
How can Jeb Bush expect to deal with China, Russia + Iran if he gets caught doing a “plant” during my speech yesterday in NH?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2015
What followed, according to the Washington Post, was a horrific and anti-woman, anti-dissent attack on Batchelder. Trump’s faithful lit up her social media, her phone and shared her address to intimidate her. They threatened her with physical, often sexual, violence to prove just how much they believe that Trump supports women:
Her phone began ringing with callers leaving threatening messages that were often sexual in nature. Her Facebook and email inboxes filled with similar messages. As her addresses circulated on social media and her photo flashed on the news, she fled home to hide.
“I didn’t really know what anyone was going to do,” said Batchelder, now 19, who has never discussed her experience with a reporter until now. “He was only going to tweet about it and that was it, but I didn’t really know what his supporters were going to do, and that to me was the scariest part.”
Trump’s twitter habit is already a problem internationally, for the stock market (though momentarily), and for private citizens like Batchelder and, more recently, Chuck Jones. Jones is president of United Steelworkers 1999 and dared criticize Trump’s “Carrier” deal. Both received immediate threats against them by Trump “deplorables” who threatened not only sexual violence against the woman but intimated harm to Jones’ children. Apparently, patriotism in Trump’s America includes intimidation for anyone who dares speak out against Trump:
Logic doesn’t matter to online trolls, who rated Batchelder’s physical appearance, threatened to rape or otherwise hurt her and called her vulgar names. A photoshopped picture popped up online depicting her face covered in semen.
Trump’s account had only 5 million followers back when he attacked Batchelder. Now, his personal platform has 17 million, after he is inaugurated he will then inherit the @POTUS twitter that has 12.5 million followers. He has likened his twitter to “owning the NY Times, without the losses.” That would make each of his tweets the sick “trumpiverse” equivalent to a White House press conference. He knows this, and he thinks this is a good thing:
“I think I am very restrained, and I talk about important things,” Trump said during an interview with the “Today” show this week. “Frankly, it’s a modern-day form of communication. . . . I get it out much faster than a press release. I get it out much more honestly than dealing with . . . dishonest reporters. So many reporters are dishonest.”
He is using social media as a modern platform to attack anyone that dissents. Like a dictator would. We can not afford to treat his twitter account as a distraction, and here is why: he will be communicating this way for as long as he is in power. These tweets are “actions” and “official statements” of the PEOTUS. Continuing to pretend that his Twitter-tantrums are only a distraction that we can ignore isn’t going to help our country. This doesn’t mean we should only concentrate on them, just that we can and must see them and his policy decisions that threaten our very planet as relevant. We would not have given Presidents Bush, or Obama, or Reagan, or Clinton a pass for releasing a press statement attacking a private citizen.
Back to his twitter tantrum’s effect on Ms. Batchelder. In case you were wondering why she is willing to speak out now despite the surety of renewed attacks, those attacks haven’t stopped. It seems that Ms. Batchelder, though she is aware this will cause a backlash, is not going to be a victim:
For Batchelder, who studies history and gender studies at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H, the abuse continues more than a year later. Five days before the election, she received a Facebook message that read: “Wishing I could f—ing punch you in the face. id then proceed to stomp your head on the curb and urinate in your bloodied mouth and i know where you live, so watch your f—ing back punk.”
This woman is an American citizen, she asked a question for which this deplorable person threatened to curb stomp her almost a year later. She is now subject to continued harassment, regardless of her 15 minutes having expired and her avoiding having any place in the continued narrative. No president of the United States has ever attacked private citizens like this for asking questions, disagreeing, calling out inaccuracies or lies because it is unconscionable for the person charged with protecting our Constitution to do so. Trump is not only fitting us with the least capable, most affluent cabinet ever — stocked with climate change deniers for the EPA, Goldman Sachs bankers for the Treasury and National Economic Council, an anti-labor labor secretary, and anti-public-education education secretary — he is attacking private citizens and inciting violent threats against them. That isn’t simply a distraction, it is a direct result of Donald Trump’s purposefully careless actions from a position of authority.
We cannot afford to get lost in his every tweet, though, it is time to flood your local and state officials with your distaste. Or, as Arthur Sellers, previously the President of the Writers Guild of America said in response to the question of what we should DO to fight back as tired citizens (emphasis and links mine):
Phone calls to local, state and federal office holders has an impact: they don’t like to hear their subjects are pissed off… it becomes real to them. Letters too, carry weight because the ones on the receiving end know people have to be VERY motivated to actually write and mail a lettter. But it takes critical mass: many, many letters and calls, protests outside their offices — for it to become a problem in their eyes. Meanwhile, support PLANNED PARENTHOOD, ACLU, any organization that helps people. If you have the funds, subscribe to a real news publication or outlet online. A lot can be done from home..and there’s this--when we DO something, any small thing, in our own defense, we feel better, it breaks the victim/trauma miasma. We respect ourselves… coach legend John Wooden said that satisfaction and self worth come not from victory but knowing you gave your very best.
Featured image via Second Nexus