Corey Dulin: #Unpresidential

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - 6:38pm

Reading Trump’s Twitter rants is the best form of entertainment. You never know what he will say or who he will insult next. No one is safe from his social media-based shots. Not Alec Baldwin, not Meryl Streep, not even his fellow Republicans like Paul Ryan. Trump takes to Twitter to insult anyone who doesn’t completely agree with him, so it is no shock he went after congressman and civil rights legend John Lewis.

Trump’s timing is impeccable because if you’re going to call a man who has dedicated his life to public service and civil rights “all talk” and “no action,” you might as well do it on Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. Many people use the long weekend to reflect on and celebrate the work of King and other civil rights protesters. But Trump, always looking to shake up the status quo, took a unique approach:

If Trump needs to see Lewis do something, he can turn on almost any documentary about the civil rights movement and see Lewis marching and organizing to end segregation. However, based on Trump’s attitude, I suspect that he would call Lewis taking part in the Freedom Rides “just sitting down in a bus.” When he watches Lewis take hit after hit from a policeman’s nightstick, sees Lewis pushed to the ground and look up only to see the stick coming toward him again, he would say “he just fell down.” Though it is not a documentary, I recommend Trump watch the 2015 film “Selma,” since he doubts that Lewis is a man of action. Then hopefully he will realize that his statements about Lewis are completely false.

In the tweet, Trump specifically attacks Lewis’s public service record, so I assume he means to define action as vocalizing the concerns of constituents and working to address issues within the district. Lewis’s district faces challenges, including poverty and unemployment, but it is also considered a tech hub. One of its cities, Atlanta, was rated one of the “fastest growing metro areas from 2013 to 2015.” Trump’s tweets overemphasize the issues and completely ignore the positive characteristics of the district. Citing a few negative statistics and using them to represent an entire district does not provide a complete characterization of the district.

Trump, even though he is the president-elect, is in no place to criticize Lewis’s political experience and work. Besides his presidential campaign, Trump has no experience in public service. While Lewis spoke with his constituents and sponsored and introduced bills in the House of Representatives, Trump made a name for himself in real estate and numerous business ventures. This, in addition to the fact that Trump has no experience living in Georgia’s fifth district, leaves Trump unqualified to make these claims. If he wants to tweet about someone who’s “all talk” and “no action” in the realm of politics, I suggest he tweet about himself.

Maybe he forgot that he’s supposed to be president, but in any case, going on Twitter rants like these is a waste of time and should not be the behavior of an elected official. It’s fantastic that politicians can use social media to interact with their constituents; using social media makes politicians less like political figures or images only seen on TV or heard in the news, and more like relatable people. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, one of the people on Trump’s growing list of enemies, embraces social media; he Snapchatted while he campaigned for Hillary Clinton. Social media is a great way for politicians to connect with constituents, but it should not make national news nearly every week and should not be used to insult others.

Instead of tweeting, Trump needs to direct his attention to his upcoming job. He needs to receive the presidential daily briefings every day, not just when he feels like it.  He needs to figure out how to unite the country. On Friday, the task of addressing the concerns of all Americans will pass to his shoulders. He won’t be able to effectively complete this task if he can’t put his phone down. How will he have time to “make America great again” if he is too distracted by his Twitter?

Trump’s tweet about Lewis is another example of how much Trump loves to stir up drama through social media. He can’t help himself — tweeting hurtful statements is his favorite pastime. But this type of behavior is unacceptable for anyone. When we see the first signs of it in kids, we take them aside and explain why it is not OK.

Unfortunately, no matter how many times we tell Trump to stop insulting people, to act like an adult and not like the school bully, the message never sticks. For someone who claims to be a “smart person,” he can’t seem to figure out that insulting everyone who doesn’t share his ideas and beliefs is wrong. Trump cannot effectively work with anyone if he constantly attacks people who say anything against him on Twitter. Before his inauguration, he needs to realize that people will say things he doesn’t like and that should not encourage him to incite a Twitter war.

Any time I read or hear about Trump’s latest tweets, I always ask in exasperation “Can someone please take Twitter away from him?” But part of me likes seeing all the ridiculous statements on his Twitter account. It gives a clear look into the mind of the future president. His tweets are more honest than any speech he will give, any statement he will make, any action he will do. On Twitter, he disregards what few standards he sets for his behavior. He can give a speech written by writers and reviewed by his staff, but what he tweets off the top of his head without time for anyone to check him or tell him to stop is where we see the true Trump. While I dislike him, I want to know what I’ll be stuck dealing with for the next four years.

Corey Dulin can be reached at cydulin@umich.edu.