Being online at any point in the Trump era always feels like being trapped in a chaotic time loop.
The president’s pugilistic Twitter presence, not to mention his overall penchant for spectacle, leaves onlookers locked in a perpetual state of reaction.
What he just said, or did, is always changing—often several times within a single day—but the cartoon fight cloud around it remains constant.
Happy Groundhog Day!
But just because the president’s blunt provocations arrive at such a frenetic pace that they tend to blur together doesn’t mean political spectators need be equally repetitive in their responses.
Each day without fail, however, pundits both professional and otherwise shout into the echo chamber the same shopworn responses to each Trumpian news nugget. Over the past few years, this routine has congealed into a well-rehearsed dance: Trump leads, Politics Twitter follows, and round and round we go.
It’s bad enough reading Trump’s latest inflammatory bon mot at all; seeing it cocooned within dozens of familiar, faux-witty quote-tweets adds a layer of profound emptiness to the proceedings.
It doesn’t have to be this way, though.
Not that everyone should just ignore Trump altogether, although certainly some people would benefit from doing so. Rather, Politics Twitter simply needs to discover some fresh ways to engage with the cacophony Trump creates online—or at least retire some of the more once-fun reactions that have since become assembly-line pablum.
Not simply falling back on “the hits” can be challenging. I’ve been guilty of using several of the below tropes myself. If everyone were to abandon them at this point, though, it would go a long way toward making each day between now and the election feel less identical to the previous day.
It would sure be a shame if everyone stopped tweeting these phrases.
The writers this season
Because the president is, incredibly, a former game show host, he brings to the office a pronounced reality-television sensibility. While some turns during his tenure have felt so cosmically coincidental they might as well have been concocted in a writers’ room, plenty of them are just interesting things that happened. Is it a little schadenfreude-y that some of Trump’s “beautiful boaters” accidentally sank their boats during a parade for Trump last weekend? Absolutely. Does it seem like evidence that America is now a divine Truman Show experiment? Not necessarily!
Piers Morgan becoming a zealous Donald Trump apologist is such a perfect touch from this campaign season's writers. It's the little things.
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) August 2, 2016
Okay, the writers on this second season of The Trump Presidency are getting a little silly. https://t.co/ivSqnxz2WV
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) November 8, 2017
First lightning strikes the Washington Monument and now the Trump Pride Boat Parade sinks.
— Dr. Elizabeth Sacha Baroness Cohen (@alixabeth) September 5, 2020
My 2020 bingo card
How exactly did people come to start describing unlikely events as items absent from an annual bingo card? Is everybody playing bingo in a vastly different way than I do? (I have not played bingo in at least 17 years.) In any case, far too many people are perhaps overvaluing the impact of claiming that a news item falls outside of some nonexistent predictions game.
The President of the United States being condemned by the Nelson Mandela Foundation was not on my 2020 bingo card https://t.co/qQsk7ujFDK
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) September 8, 2020
I also didn’t have Trump urging his malevolent followers to harass Steve Jobs’s widow on my 2020 Extreme Dystopia bingo card.
— Michael Freeman (@michaelpfreeman) September 6, 2020
I have to confess that I did not have "Kim Jong-un hits on Sarah Sanders" on my Donald Trump Perpetual Firehose Of Fucknuttery Bingo card
— Jeff Tiedrich (@itsJeffTiedrich) September 2, 2020
It would sure be a shame if everyone . . .
This specimen is a close cousin to Raise Your Hand If in its request for amplification. Perhaps it started as an ode to the old chestnut, “Nice ____ you got there. Be a shame if something happened to it.” Whatever its origins, though, the winky-winky reverse logic has long outworn its outcome, and made the desired amplification something I do root against.
oh geez it sure would be a shame if everyone went to https://t.co/wR8TvB98VP tonight ????
— Matt Hodges (@hodgesmr) August 28, 2020
— billie (@keemondaroof) June 25, 2020
Hey everyone, the official White House twitter account is trying to duck action taken on Trump's account.
Sure would be a shame if everyone reported them for it. https://t.co/VK9jxrnxO5
— Nash Across the 8th Dimension (@Nash076) May 29, 2020
Don’t fall for this distraction
Picture this: You’re looking at your phone. (Hard to imagine, I know.) Suddenly, a piece of sensational news floats across the transom. It seems intriguing. You’re about to devote the full breadth of your attention to it, for upward of 10 minutes. Thankfully, a well-meaning and deeply serious Twitterer arrives just in the nick of time to let you know that this sensational story is merely a distraction from an empirically more important story. You almost fell victim to the hazard of paying attention to the wrong thing. Had you gone with your instinct, the distractors would have won. But thanks to the warning of a good Samaritan who has never been distracted by anything, the distractors lost and were never heard from again. The end.
Don't fall for this. It's just a distraction to avoid talking about Trump.
— News & Gifs (@YessGossip) September 9, 2020
Can we just stay on the Trump story today?
Can we not get manipulated into a Trump distraction?
Asking for The United States of America.
— Don Winslow (@donwinslow) September 4, 2020
Ignore the nobel nomination BS, it's a distraction.
The E.J. Carol case being taken up at the DOJ is what they are distracting us from.
Don't fall for it, this was intentional.
Stay focused people.
— Dustin Snyder (@dsnyder814) September 9, 2020
Two things can be true at the same time
I hear there’s even a surgery that can make three things be true at the same time.
Police brutality and destroying businesses are both bad. Two things can be true at the same time. You don't have to pick one or the other
— Gabe (@slicedGabe) September 5, 2020
and before i catch a subtweet again two things can be true at the same time:
there’s genuine support for biden among democratic primary voters.
some not-insignificant portion of his total support amounts to “we think he is the most likely to win”
— b-boy bouiebaisse (@jbouie) August 6, 2019
Two things can be true at the same time:
1⃣John Bolton was drunk on power.
— Holly Figueroa O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) June 22, 2020
It’s almost as if . . .
Sarcastically downplaying the obviousness of your point? It’s almost as if it’s been done before.
It's almost as if Trump was historically unpopular. https://t.co/MQADY3nBot
— Gerry Conway (@gerryconway) September 8, 2020
it's almost as if a lot of investigations into Trump malfeasance got buried when it started getting too close to Trump. https://t.co/5MItAgkeVE
— Cheri Jacobus (@CheriJacobus) September 5, 2020
I sense a pattern here. It's almost as if all the people causing chaos and violence are Trump supporters. Huh. https://t.co/4bY8JmTVie
— Kim (@KahootsiePie) September 6, 2020
Imagine if Obama . . .
The moment Trump took office nearly four years ago, almost every single Republican in a position of power decided that the ends of his presidency were worth whatever the means. Since then, the stench of hypocrisy wafting out of Washington, D.C., has reached uncharted levels of foulness, as GOP politicians who were red-faced screaming over such Obama scandals as wearing a tan suit, Dijongate, and the “latte salute” give Donald Trump a pass on refusing to release his tax returns despite nearly everyone in his inner circle being charged with financial crimes; fomenting racial tensions; denigrating dead troops; and purposefully downplaying the threat of coronavirus. The people who support what Trump did yesterday will support whatever he does tomorrow. To them, it doesn’t matter how furious they would be if Obama did the same thing; if Trump did it, it was probably the right thing to do. As maddening as this disparity may be, though, it should have sunk in by now. Instead of imagining how the GOP would’ve reacted if Obama were Trump, imagine the political future you prefer and work toward making it a reality.
Imagine if Barack Obama had a heart episode and was taken to Walter Reed and kept it from the public and then it leaked…
— Amee Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) September 1, 2020
Just imagine the outrage from Republicans if President Obama had called fallen soldiers "Losers" and "Suckers."
But with Trump I hear nothing.
They are hypocritical to their core!!
— Brian O'Sullivan (@osullivanauthor) September 4, 2020
— Republicans for Joe Biden (@RepsForBiden) September 9, 2020