On Nov. 8, 2016, I was a member of the group of infuriated Americans suffering from an extreme disappointment. As anything but a supporter of our new president, I didn’t envision any foreseeable improvements that would be made under his reign. But admittedly, I was overlooking one of the main reasons he was elected in the first place: his appeal to the public.
As a political science major, I follow President Donald Trump’s moves obsessively. In my political science classes, I am surrounded by people with a similar fascination, who watch the news every morning and night to keep up with the daily musings of our — shall we say — eccentric president. A presidential election obviously creates a spur in the public’s attention to the media, but as soon as Trump planted his hand on that Bible and finally got the title of president before his name, I expected most people to fall into their usual habit of inattention to the news. That’s before I understood just how entertaining Trump is.
Our president’s actions, while unpredictable and unprecedented in many cases, are undeniably captivating. Though I would have much preferred a different outcome from the election, it is indubitable that his public appeal is widespread and that people are interested in what he is doing. For the first time that I can remember, people who would ordinarily grow complacent about keeping up with politics are knowledgeable about what is happening — and it’s all because of Trump.
A large part of this is because of Trump’s preferred outlet of communication. I’m speaking, of course, about his use of Twitter. Even though I might not decide to put comments degrading our federal judges or attacking Democratic senators for obstructionism on my Twitter feed, it sure is an effective way to keep the U.S. public, especially young people, engaged. With 15.5 million Twitter followers, Trump is in tune with the role that social media plays in communicating with a large audience. Not all people want to sit in front of a TV for hours a day, or spend their time searching various news outlets on the web. His use of Twitter is a fast and easy way to reach out to the U.S. public, and it’s certainly helping him keep the attention of the people.
For the first time, I have something positive to say about the results of the 2016 election. I saw no glimmer of hope on the night that his name was announced as the new leader of our country, but as the weeks drag on and the public continues to be informed about his decisions, I think I have finally found one. Of course, I wish that it didn’t take the actions of an erratic man and a computer screen to keep the public engaged, but for now, I’ll take it as my silver lining.
Emily Houston is a sophomore double-majoring in English and political science.