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Trump talks big; consequences follow

Trump talks big; consequences follow

President’s comments carry more weight than he may think

Elliot Gonnela

Antelope Staff

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. We have heard or said that phrase so many times that for most of us it draws nothing but an eye roll. It may have been appropriate when it was first said as an English rhyme in 1830, but in today’s world, words carry more weight and power than a rod of oak or a heavy piece of rock.

Think about social media for example. Someone could cause great harm on the sites by merely clicking a few keys. We hear about cyberbullying all the time, the self-destructive actions people take as a result of the bullying and the consequences that follow. I don’t have any social media accounts in any way, shape or form, and I can’t escape the power words have sometimes. Even someone with very little power in the real world can create tremors in cyberspace.

Now imagine that nobody is instead an egotistical sociopath having his words read by thousands of journalists and reaching the accounts of millions who then pass it on to millions of others. Just imagine the headache and consequences that will follow if that fiction was to happen.

You only need to look to our current tenant of the White House to see that play out.

I don’t need to explain that the social media feed for Trump has been full of hot air, venom and simple thoughts that take hours in between tweets to say completely. He is acting like a spoiled man child who doesn’t like people correcting him when he is wrong. To be fair, I don’t think many of us like being wrong but most of us don’t go on rants for days on end over something. Tweets are by far the least professional and precise manner to deliver policy. Give me a five-hundred-page manifesto written by Trump’s ghost writer any day. I won’t read it, but I will admire the fact someone took time to write it.

If he were not the President, I don’t think many would care for what Trump had to say about things. He would be that xenophobic relative who you have to talk to during the holidays, and you could just drown him out by nodding and saying “Whatever uncle.”

As the President, he is representing the nation as a whole and his words are supposed to reflect our own thoughts. In theory, what Trump says on Twitter, in front of live audiences or a microphone for a propaganda center trying to call themselves news, is supposed encapsulate our feelings. I have a hard time believing even a slim majority of almost 330 million Americans agree with what he says.

Think about his current spats with individuals and organizations. The NFL and the national anthem protests are a good example. Personally, I could care less what players do during the anthem. It doesn’t mean anything to me what somebody else does during a song; I have more important things to focus on. However, according to Trump, the actions of a few employees of a private corporation should merit national attention and our full concern instead of the opiate crisis (still waiting for that national emergency to be declared), tensions in Asia and half a dozen other items. It is an action that eats up the headlines and offers cheap bonus points with the rabid nationalists along with perhaps some frail has-beens walking out of the stadium, but nothing too serious.

Does the anthem mean something to me? Of course, but not enough for me to tell someone what they can or cannot do during it. A gesture should not overweigh other concerns of greater importance.

His statements go from making mountains out of molehills to words that cause significant damage. He constantly tweets about business who he thinks are bad, and for a while the stock prices plummet for those companies. Back in August, Amazon lost almost six billion in stock prices that day because Trump complained that it was destroying jobs and detracting from local businesses. In truth, this tweet was probably because the owner of Amazon also owns a holding company that owns The Washington Post, a newspaper with less than favorable opinions of Trump. While six billion dollars may not sound like a lot to Amazon, that is a significant amount of money lost in 140 characters.

A similar case played out with companies such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin, companies that have defense contracts that Trump saw as overcharging the treasury. The companies lost one billion and three and a half billion in stock share price respectfully after a single tweet. Toyota lost more than one billion in share prices after Trump threatened to stop a factory being moved from California to Mexico. From individuals to multibillion dollar corporations, small words thrown on the digital world by a walking spray tan mannequin have serious consequences.  The trouble is when so many are placed out there, it is hard to figure out which opinions can be discarded as the ramblings of someone who is clearly not playing with a full deck of cards and which contain the intent for future policies.

As much as many of us would love nothing more than to replace every character in a tweet with an incomprehensible symbol or every word Trump speaks as white noise, we can’t just ignore it because we dislike it. The best way I can compare the tweets and ramblings of Trump is like watching a violent car wreck on replay. It is going to be painful and eye searing to look at, but in watching it you might learn something. 

Unfortunately, with his fingers constantly churning out fragments of messages, it looks like this will be the new norm in American politics for a while. Words thrown around in abundance with little care for the real consequences by the sender who is the chief executive, commander in chief and face of the nation. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will cause problems.

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