Essay on Trump and Populism on Twitter

Published: 2021/11/23
Number of words: 3018


The paper highlights how Trump uses principles of populism to put his agenda through in the United States. His tweets have drawn criticism from many leaders across all divides. As such, the paper aims to explain how basic principles of populism have been displayed through his Twitter account. The research critically analyzes the concept of populism and how it is used by political leaders to dupe the electorate. The paper discusses three main principles that are evident in his account. The principles include ignoring the opinions of the minority by the majority, doing contrary to the requirements of the elite and promising to fulfill social requirements for the American people. The interest is to understand the scope of populism and how it has impacted leadership. Equally, the report examines the role of mainstream media in running campaigns against the current President of the United States, Donald Trump. The paper analyzes each principle giving examples of tweets that the President made that show populism.

Trump and Populism on Twitter


Populism is a political strategy that is usually used by leaders who have an aim of championing the common person by favorable contrast with elites. John Donald Trump, the President of the United States, is a figure who can be associated with the trend of using social media to achieve his ambitions (Watt, Carvill, House, Livingston & Williams, 2017). Populism is a common strategic instrument of power politics that recognizes no political parties. It is characterized by the use of provoking, informal and direct communication to create homogeneity among people. It acts as a way of mobilizing people in a particular circumstance. As noted, populism does not applaud party politics, but instead, it applies for right self-representation and negative other image to further a specific interest (Haynes & Sattler, 2017). Trump is an epitome of an individual who uses social media, especially Twitter, to discredit those who criticize him. Many other leaders in the world history have used populism as a tool for furthering their agenda. Examples of right-wing populist movements include Narendra Modi in India, Chinese nationalists and Sweden Democrats (Ahmadian, Azarshahi & Paulhus, 2017). Trump has been on the limelight for using Twitter to communicate formal matters, a matter that has since drawn criticism. In most cases, use of such an approach to mainstream politics is supported by the fact that those arguments can be better contested online than offline. Equally, such leaders resolve to use of such strategies because mainstream media does not accept such practices or the message is against media regulations. Leaders such as Trump take their politics to twitter because they feel that the mainstream media are biased. The paper aims to establish how the principles of populism are demonstrated on Donald Trump’s Twitter account.

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Trump’s Attitude to the Media

Since he took office, Trump has demonstrated a discrediting attitude towards journalists and the media in general. Through Twitter, the President has continually bitterly attacked the media, a matter that has encouraged fellow Republicans to follow suit (Kreis, 2017). For instance, Trump became a Republican candidate following his frequent domination of the mainstream media using his Twitter account. By using twitter, the President can mobilize support on a given circumstance regardless of the party that they belong to (Chatfield, Reddick & Choi, 2017). Trump has risen to circumvent his party in a clever way to becoming the candidate for the Republicans. Most of his tweets are pro-Trump while they brand the opposition and those who criticize him negatively. Populism is a tool that the current President of the United States applied in his quest to become elected. To some extent, he managed to mobilize Americans to rally behind his ambition and agenda (Auxier & Golbeck, 2017).

Trump uses Twitter to pursue his political agenda by creating a good image of him while branding others negatively (Stolee & Caton, 2018). Throughout his political career, Trump has made attacks on the media a cornerstone of his politics. The aim is to get support from culturally conservative Americans whose views are usually ignored by the mainstream media. On several accounts, the President has dismissed reports by journalists as fake and branded press as the enemy of the people. There are rising concerns from journalists on the rising inflammatory statements issued against them by Trump and his supporters. This year, the President tweeted attacks on CNN and Washington based reporter. In his tweet, Trump applauds his administration for exposing the perfidy in the mainstream media. The tweet claimed that the media could not be trusted as they are spreading fake news on various matters. Trump tries to brand his leadership as the best that Americans can have in history so far (Pierson, 2017).

Populism and its Principles

Populism is a concept that incorporates the idea of defending the interest and maximizing the power of citizens. It embraces reforms as a way of handling issues within the economy rather than using revolution as an approach (Kazin, 2016). Populism calls for direct democracy that is spearheaded on various popular initiatives and referenda. It is critical to understand how populism has applied in the United States under Trump in his bid to push his agenda (Brito-Vieira & Carreira da Silva, 2018). Populism is associated with the authoritarian form of governance, where many subjects submit to the ideologies of their leader blindly. It juxtaposes virtuous populace with the elite in society who are normally corrupt. To Trump and other populists, the strategy works as the only legitimate source of political power for them (Urbinati, 2019). It is crucial to understand the principles of populism and the basis for its use in politics.

Fundamental principles that revolve around the politics of populism and right-wing include contrariety with the elite in the society, promises to fulfill social requirements and importantly, ignoring the opinion of the minority by the majority (Blokker, 2019). Populism is widely used by conservative leaders to ensure that their agenda is driven forward regardless of the views that the rest are airing. Twitter, as a social media platform, has led to increased use of populism to gain political power. For instance, Trump uses his twitter account to say his mind and mobilize support (Bickart, Fournier & Nisenholtz, 2017). It is essential to understand how the United States president has displayed the three principles of populism on twitter. As noted, Trump has taken battles to twitter severally since he took office. A populist economic strategy aims at promoting the interests of citizens and the whole nation. Equally, the program can aim to redistribute wealth in the country without considering critical economic parameters such as debt and inflation.

‘Against Elites’ Principle

Trump has remained loyal to his voters by maintaining a war on the elites since he started his short political career. He has taken a dig at the elites who try to criticize his style of leadership as ineptitude. On several occasion, Trump has accused elites of wanting to drag development, which is key to the citizens of the United States. For instance, on the July 9th 2015, Trump accused the elite of wanting to take education out of parental control. His tweet read “The elites want Common Core so they can take education out of parental control. NO! Let’s Make America Great Again!” The statement illustrates a true populist leader displaying his thoughts on what should be done. Undoubtedly, the tweet demonstrates a common principle of populism. In the tweet, Trump has played two sides, one that paints his image positively and one that is demeaning the opinion of the elites. Against the elites is a principle that works since it belittles or shows contempt to views raised by the elites while pushing his agenda. Many have shown dissatisfaction by attacking the President directly claiming that his approach to leadership can erupt to violence. The elite are the minority group in the United States and Trump concentrates on fighting them at the same time empowering common citizens who are the majority.

On several occasions, Trump has used Twitter to demean suggestions from the elite. For instance, he has refuted on several occasions claims by the intelligence agencies that Russians interfered with the 2016 general elections in the country (Gross & Johnson, 2016). Moreover, Trump has blamed vaccines for autism, something that gives him political power, especially from the less enlightened in the society. Trump could not have achieved his position were it not for substantial support from the electorate. His support consists of the population that considers itself ignored by the elites and established party elites. Those in support of such ideologies include less educated, male, more rural and white population. His supporters are against established state elites who have one thing in common, distrust for the government. Currently, the educated and established elites have fronted Warren as an opponent to Trump in the coming 2020 elections. The educated and affluent class in the United States detests Trump’s antics and is against his quest to be reelected. For decades, the media has embraced the idea of impartiality a matter that many Trump supporters believe does not exist anymore. To them, mainstream media is nothing less than a partisan tool. The idea held by Trump supporters can be illustrated by the agitated campaigns on mainstream media soiling the President’s name and ideologies (Ott & Dickinson, 2019).

Promises to Fulfill Social Requirements Principle

Many politicians who are populists enjoy the idea of making promises to citizens that are never fulfilled. For instance, Trump uses his twitter account to promise Americans of ideologies that he ends up not delivering. It is a commonly applied principle of populism aimed at gaining support for the party leader. The President has criticized the mainstream media for spearheading campaigns against his tenure to the extent of branding them an enemy of the people. A survey conducted by Quinnipiac University in April indicated that most republicans are in agreement with the President’s branding of the media as an enemy (Morris, 2018). Majority of democrats who were interviewed characterized the media as an important tool in spearheading democracy. Before his election as the President, Trump had pledged on twitter that he would ensure an increase in job opportunities for Americans and repeal Obamacare. Social requirements in the society include education, healthcare, food, security, poverty, trade deficits and the economy in general, among others. On several occasions, the President tweeted “I will fix!”, something that he has not managed to achieve up to now. That shows how populist leaders are taking advantage of the common citizens for their gains.

On January 26th 2019, Trump, through his twitter account, promised to end common core standards in the United States in case he gets the seat (Enli, 2017). He tweeted “I will end common core. It’s a disaster.” The promise he made to fix existing laws that restrict federal support for the common core has been kept partially. The President made several promises to fulfill social requirements through his twitter account before being elected as a president. To some extent, the informal way of making promises to people helped Trump gain the support that he required to get elected (Wilkin, 2018). Another promise that Trump made is to stop drug trafficking in the United States. On February 6th 2016, he tweeted “The New Hampshire drug epidemic must stop. If elected POTUS- I will create borders & the drugs will stop pouring in.” The promise is in progress as he has taken steps and shown the intention to build a Mexican border wall. He has also increased enforcement along the borders to oversee what pours in into the states. A presidential commission has laid strategies that can see the government reduce drug use in the States that has claimed many lives of the young generation. As such, it is evident that Trump has used his twitter account to display some populist attributes.

Ignoring the Minority by the Majority

Ignoring the minority groups by the majority is a universal principle that populists such as Donald Trump employ. Many critics of Trump’s leadership have continually accused him of ignoring minority groups, which has branded him a racist. It is essential to unmask the role that Twitter has played in spreading racist remarks against minority groups. The President announces policies and relays his message via twitter, unlike many other presidents (Roberts, 2019). Trump tweeted on July 22nd, claiming that the squad consists of very racist people and trouble makers. His tweet read “The “Squad” is a very Racist group of troublemakers who are young, inexperienced, and not very smart. They are pulling the once great Democrat Party far left, and were against humanitarian aid at the Border…And are now against ICE and Homeland Security. So bad for our country!” The tweet illustrates that the President does not in any way support or listen to what the critics say. The post also indicates how he feels that the squad members are not real Americans. As such, it is a clear illustration of populism as a way of gaining political support from the general public (Francia, 2018). From the tweet, Trump is ignoring their opinions and making his preference seem legit, which is an attribute of all populist leaders ().

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Ignoring the minority for the majority applies in politics of the right-wing and populism as displayed by Trump administration and use of Twitter. In his tweets, the President always ignores an opinion of the minority in favor of the majority opinion. Populism on twitter has helped Trump gain massive support from the majority of the electorate. His approach to leadership is based on appealing to people, especially on twitter, to rally behind him. The rhetoric of branding the mainstream media as an enemy of the people and proclaiming himself friendly is a common principle exhibited by populists (Marietta, Cote, Farley & Murphy, 2018).


To sum it up, populism is a tool that leaders apply in politics to mobilize support for their agenda. Trump uses Twitter to pass his message and announce policies, a move that many have criticized. Trump is a populist who uses social media to communicate his intentions and criticize others. He applies the principles of populism on his twitter account as a communication strategy. The first principle is contrariety to the elite group, especially the mainstream media. On several occasions, the President has taken it to twitter to criticize journalists for spreading fake news. Second, Trump applies the principle of making promises to fulfill social requirements on twitter to gain support. Lastly, he ignores the opinions of the minority by the majority. As such, it is evident that Trump has displayed principles of populism on his official Twitter account.


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