What if Trump hadn't had Twitter




(CNN)It has only been a month since Trump was booted from Twitter and other social media platforms, but already the nasty slogans have slowed and the vicious attacks have waned.

Trumpian politics are alive and well in some quarters -- but there has been a noticeable respite from the constant barrage of toxic rhetoric since the former President lost his bully pulpit.

Now, as the Senate impeachment trial has concluded with his acquittal -- 57 voted guilty; 43, not guilty, a majority for conviction, but short of the two-thirds needed -- Americans should take a deep breath, process what former President Donald Trump did and envision, for a moment, how things could have played out differently. How the country could have been spared the trauma it has just endured.

 

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Imagine if Trump had not spent months pushing the big lie that the 2020 election had been stolen. Imagine if he had been shut out of his Twitter account months earlier, and was unable to post about "illegal" votes or share hundreds of other false and misleading tweets.

Imagine if he never held a press conference just hours after the polls closed on election night and said, "This is a fraud on the American public." Imagine if Trump never promoted the rally on Jan. 6, said he won in a landslide, or told his supporters to march to the Capitol and "show strength."

The entire Senate impeachment trial has revolved around Trump's role in whipping up the frenzied mob that terrorized Congress on Jan. 6.

Without the defeated President's imprimatur, which revolved around his public campaign to overturn the election, the "Stop the Steal" movement would never have gained so much steam.

The mob of insurrectionists broke into the Capitol and threatened the physical safety of legislators because the rioters had consumed Trump's lies -- and believed they were acting righteously in the name of their President and their country. This was not an ordinary protest.

As House manager Rep. Madeleine Dean said during the trial, Trump "assembled thousands of violent people, people he knew were capable of violence...and then he pointed to us, lit the fuse and sent an angry mob to fight the perceived enemy -- his own vice president and members of congress -- as we certified an election."

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Indeed, the managers presented video evidence showing one man with a bullhorn literally reading Trump's tweet out loud as they stormed the halls of the Capitol. Another rioter said, "Our president wants us here." After Senator Mitt Romney fled for his safety that day, he said, "What happened here today was an insurrection incited by the president of the United States."

According to evidence entered into the record Saturday, Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler said Rep. Kevin McCarthy told her that Trump sided with the mob as the Capitol was being breached. When the House minority leader urged the commander-in-chief to send help, Trump said, "Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are," according to Herrera Beutler's account.

Trump's attempt to overturn the election was propped up by his repeated lies -- lies that his followers believed and acted on. This was an essential and basic argument in the case for impeachment -- and it's one that too often gets lost in the discussion. Trump engaged in a month-long war against our democratic process and his Twitter feed was an essential tool in doing so. Public discourse has already changed dramatically in the weeks since he was barred from various social media platforms.

 

Trump was the main engine behind the movement to "Stop the Steal," and the driving force when this mob of terrorists broke into the Capitol. It's not much of a surprise to hear what Trump said to McCarthy. After all, these were his people doing his bidding. The House managers made it painfully clear that Trump cared more about perpetuating his big lie than the lives at risk, or the damage the attack would inflict on our democracy.

 

His role is as impeachable as it gets. But most Senate Republicans stood firm and voted to acquit. This is shocking and predictable. Partisanship over democracy has triumphed once again.

 

Source: CNN


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