Of course Twitter shouldn’t ban Donald Trump. And surely the president’s critics can find something better to do with $1 billion than buying a social network just to kick him off of it.
Recently, Valerie Plame Wilson — the former CIA operative who became a cause celebre when the Bush administration outed her before the Iraq war — set up a GoFundMe page for her #BuyTwitter campaign. She argued that acquiring the publicly traded company, at a cost of about $1 billion, is “a small price to pay to take away Trump’s most powerful megaphone and prevent a horrific nuclear war.”
Imagine if Wilson succeeded. She and her backers would be out a lot of money. Trump would still be president. And he’d still have plenty of other ways to lambaste opponents, promulgate bad policies, and raise tensions on the global scene.
Trump has not just the nuclear codes but also aircraft carriers and troops and bombs at his disposal. If he wants to engage in brinkmanship with North Korea, he’ll do it, no matter how many Twitter shares Wilson and her supporters succeeded in buying.
But if you don’t like Trump’s policies, you should be glad he’s on Twitter, because his statements there so often boomerang on him. When a federal appeals court blocked enforcement of the president’s travel ban earlier this year, judges cited his tweets as evidence of discriminatory intentions. If Trump hadn’t tweeted about supposed tapes of his conversations with James Comey, the fired FBI director wouldn’t have leaked the memo that prompted the Justice Department to appoint an independent counsel to investigate the president’s Russia connections.
For liberals casting about for ways to resist Trump, silencing him on Twitter might feel emotionally satisfying. But big, showy gestures only achieve so much. If Wilson and others can raise $1 billion for the sake of harrying the president, they can also spend the money in more consequential ways. Republicans control Congress, most state legislatures, and the overwhelming majority of governorships. Because conservatives are better at turning out voters in off-year elections for lower offices, they have disproportionate influence over redistricting and voter-registration laws.
Maybe, instead of Twitter stock, anti-Trump resisters should invest in grass-roots organizing instead.Dante Ramos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook: facebook.com/danteramos or on Twitter: @danteramos.