In the wake of Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover, America is left wondering if former President Trump will be allowed to return to the platform. Musk has alluded to this action throughout his negotiations with Twitter, which has Trump anxiously awaiting his grand return to the social media network. Now that the Tesla founder officially owns Twitter, Musk has reportedly fired staff members responsible for suspending Trump, which raises speculation surrounding the issue.
With midterm elections rapidly approaching, reinstating Trump’s Twitter account could have serious ramifications.
It is clear that the former president can mobilize large groups of people by claiming election results are fraudulent. Whether or not these claims are founded upon accurate evidence, Trump’s rhetoric influences large numbers of people to take unprecedented action. His tweets on Jan. 6, 2021, were a major catalyst for the riots on the Capitol that took place.
Trump’s return to Twitter could result in another Jan. 6 scenario. Two consecutive unpeaceful transitions of power after elections would further polarize the nation, making collaboration between parties out of reach.
The former President has been subpoenaed by Congress because of his actions on Jan. 6. Additionally, the subpoena specifically requests electronic communications related to Trump’s actions on that day. No president is above the law, but Trump would certainly use Twitter to convey otherwise. Musk would put members of the select committee in danger if he reinstates Trump’s Twitter account.
Recently, Steve Bannon, a former Trump administration member, has been sentenced to prison time for ignoring a Congressional subpoena. Former President Trump should face the same consequences if he chooses to ignore his subpoena. If Trump is allowed to tweet once again, his previous behavior indicates that he will continue to promote his agenda, even if it puts others in harm’s way.
While many, including Trump himself, argue that banning him from social media is a violation of the First Amendment’s freedom of speech clause, the right does not protect individuals who knowingly scream “fire” in a crowded public space. Metaphorically, this is exactly what the former president has done.
The recent attack on Paul Pelosi, the Speaker of the House’s husband, foreshadows the consequences of social media being used as a catalyst for polarization within American politics. Make no mistake, there is a clear reason why this occurred less than two weeks before the election.
Disagreement and debate are inherent features of any democracy. Attacking the Speaker’s immediate family member and fracturing his skull is not. Ultimately, the Constitution protects only non-violent protest and organization.
Trump’s consistent public shaming of particular politicians that disagree with his viewpoints, including Nancy Pelosi, makes them targets for violence and harassment. Upholding democratic checks and balances as outlined in the Constitution is not justification for violence, even if one disagrees with the course of action.
Donald Trump Jr.’s actions on social media in response are only perpetuating radicalization and political violence. The post, which can be found on Truth Social, is a picture of a hammer and a pair of underwear with the caption “Got my Paul Pelosi Halloween costume ready.” This response is incredibly insensitive given that Pelosi suffered from a fractured skull that required surgery. All acts of political violence should be taken seriously instead of utilized as a comedic opportunity.
By continuing to use social media in a toxic manner, the Trumps consistently prove that they are unwilling to change despite the horrific consequences.
No matter the party affiliation, everyone should hold officials accountable for their actions online by demanding a formal public apology from the Trumps. Ignoring these issues sets a dangerous precedent for future leaders while putting American democracy on an uncertain path. Like any other American that receives a subpoena, the public should expect former President Trump to cooperate with the investigation.
America cannot deliver justice unless all individuals are subject to the law, including those in power.