I never thought I would write this column. I have always thought that the sheer existence of Donald Trump in the White House was a stain on the political history of the United States, until few years ago a near perfect democracy.
The election of Trump four years ago as a president stunned the world. It was utterly incomprehensible that a demagogue without any political experience would be elected to the highest office in a country that coined the term melting pot — a multicultural nation founded on the principles of tolerance, plurality and coexistence.
I remember in the months before the 2016 elections, Trump’s announcement that he was running for president seemed like a bad joke. It was laughed off in the Republican Party. The November 2016 polls however proved to be an unforgettable event in American history.
It was almost a revolution of the right against the entire US system. Trump was carried to the Oval Office under the deafening cries of ‘drain the swamp’ and ‘Make America Great Again’, which later turned out to be a code name for a right-wing takeover.
The ‘Trump wave’ was mainly magnified though by the social media, which made it easy for the new president to reach out to millions of Americans instantly unfiltered. Trump loved his Twitter. He would tweet dozens of times a day. The mainstream media no longer controls how and when a politician can talk to the people. But that was also Trump’s biggest mistake.
He could not differentiate between his duty as the most powerful man in America and the zest of a ‘twitterati’ — he would go on Twitter to threaten North Korea with a nuclear attack the world has never seen before, engage in anti-Nato rant and make fun of his world counterparts.
Domestically, he continued to appeal to the emotions of ‘disfranchised whites’, a term loosely used by his right-wing supporters instead of speaking presidentially to the entire nation from the White House podium as presidents normally do.
Those supporters took his emotionally charged words literally and took it upon themselves to overturn the 2020 election results by storming the Capitol Hill on the fateful day of January 6. Hours after the attack on the US Congress, in which five people died, almost all the social media platforms shut down President Trump’s accounts.
I think therefore I am, Descartes said. For the US president it is like, I tweet, therefore I am. Without his twitter, Trump no longer exists; he is terminated. The decision to terminate the most powerful man on the planet was made, I assume, by 20 something executives in Silicon Valley, young men and women with no political experience, no judicial credentials and no history of public service.
They are just kids with gadgets who have overnight become powerful billionaires by taking over our lives and getting us all addicted to posting online virtually everything, from our most private moments to breakfast meals in restaurants. Trump was the biggest addict of all.
President Trump has been impeached by the House of Representatives, again, on Wednesday. Now, he awaits a trial in the Senate, which will decide if he is to be removed from office, although it’s highly unlikely that would happen before he actually leaves office on Wednesday, the day president- elect Joe Biden is inaugurated.
Trump has become the first US president to be impeached twice. Honestly, the process was in vain. The man is leaving anyway. The process looks like a Democrat-led counter-revolution to put down the rising conservative current in its ‘rightful place’, on the margins of politics, in the minor league.
In reality, however, Trump was never not the reason behind the rise of the Right current in America. He didn’t start the wave that stunned the world four years ago. He is too superficial to design, articulate and lead such a movement that captures the approval of 75 million American — the number of votes Trump got in the November elections.
Trump’s rise to the presidency was just a symptom of the steep decline of the US political discourse, which was seized by right wing and white supremacist groups to force themselves into the mainstream political spectrum before they made their fatal mistake of attacking the seat of government.
The congress has the right to put the president on trial for his presumed role in inciting the mob to storm the Capitol Hill. Nobody is above the law. That is the beauty of the American democratic system. But banning President Trump from excising his right to be on social media is not democratic at all. It is revenge by an ultraliberal group of ‘techies’. That group is so hypocritical they have no right to decide who is and who is not entitled to express their views on social media platforms.
Few months ago, during the height of the Black Lives Matter, Facebook resisted calls to ban, or at least moderate, hate speech on its platform. Major brands such as Unilever, Verizon, Hershey’s, Honda, Adidas, Microsoft and Pfizer stopped advertising on Facebook to protest the proliferation of hate speech on the social media giant.
What was Facebook’s chairman, the young billionaire Mark Zuckerberg’s response? He dismissed the campaign, saying: “We’re not gonna change our policies or approach on anything because of a threat to a small per cent of our revenue, or to any per cent of our revenue.”
For years, Arab countries suffered from the tolerance of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube with terrorist groups that used the platforms to disseminate their hate and violent ideologies which led, literally, to the death of thousands of people all over the region.
The decision by those companies to shut out Trump is purely partisan politics and doesn’t make any sense. They got away, and were actually praised, for preventing the president from reaching out to the nation at a very sensitive time in its history. He is also being banned from using the official account of the presidency!
However, social media companies have become so big, apparently bigger than the government of the US, they no longer answer to anyone. There has been calls in the past few years to check the growing power of these companies. The Democrat-dominated Congress may have liked the decision these giants made against President Trump. But I expect that they will regret it one day.
There is an emergence of a Silicon Valley dictatorship in every sense of the word. A hypocritical one too! Meanwhile, “Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” on Trump.