Trump is at risk of being what he least wants to be: boring


For the entire duration of Donald Trump’s life on social media, there has been one constant. Because First Day, the former president is represented by a single tight-lipped portrait of himself, his face set with an air of confident determination and his hair combed back into its familiar coiffure. Every tweet from his 2016 candidacy and his presidency was accompanied by this image. Every breathless proclamation or enticement to attend wild rallies in Washington sat with the same unwavering look.

Until this week. Now, Trump’s true social avatar is a different image, a painting of him looking directly at the observer, his face covered in the colors of the American flag.

“President Trump lets his patriotism shine with a new profile picture on his Truth social account,” wrote a writer for the pro-Trump right-wing Broadcasting Network about the change. The news article (“TRUMP GOES ALL-ARICAN IN NEW TRUTH SOCIAL PROFILE PICTURE”) noted that Trump “is already dominating the polls,” no doubt contributing to Trump’s decision to share it on Truth Social. Is.

But, of course, Trump isn’t dominating the polls — not even the ones described in the article. Despite having no official opponents, he is already in a tight fight and his attempt to declare his candidacy early to prevent rivals from entering is not working. (His former ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, for example, plans to announce her candidacy in two weeks.) Although he retains an advantage, it seems unlikely that he will hold it. Is.

This is why the change in their social media presence is telling. It shows that Trump recognizes that the old talk doesn’t work anymore, that the path he took to get to this point is unlikely to get him much further. From 2015 to 2021, the tight-lipped tweeter Trump managed to shock and persuade while building a loyal base while tweaking his opponents. But this approach is stumbling. So we get this literal, user-generated version of Trump designed to capture new interest.

It’s a microcosm of why Trump’s old ways of getting attention are no longer effective.

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It was kind of inevitable. Trump came out of the gate in 2015 as the voice of the hard-right conservative media world. He was running against a group of establishment Republican politicians — or, at least, Republican politicians whose anti-establishment rebellions the establishment didn’t mind, like an honor roll student who didn’t Going to the bathroom is allowed. Hall Pass So Trump was alone in his fierce attacks on the GOP and immigrants and Black Lives Matter and everything else. His lack of interest in accuracy only helped.

He developed a new mold, which he actively encouraged. Candidates who talked like him and emulated him and supported him were rewarded with things like the Republican nomination for governor in Florida. Trump has tapped into and fueled the social media age’s instinct for constant hypocrisy and created an insatiable appetite for lip service with his base. The right-wing media world was suddenly full of new stars — Jake Posobeck, Katord, all your favorites. The entire Republican structure changed.

Trump is now just one more voice among many. He has a lot of followers, yes, and is definitely better known. But his piece is now everyone’s piece even as his crusades grow. He’s still talking about the 2020 election and how great his presidency was and so on while the raging right is focused on LGBTQ identity and how he (and not always Trump) is about Covid-19. were correct.

Again, the man still attracts attention. For much of the past year, he has been as much of a Google search interest as President Biden. But Trump has fallen behind in recent months. He’s still talked about a lot more on cable news than when he was president, but his twin appearances over the weekend, the first real events of his 2024 candidacy, put some attention on him. It did not create a particular blow.

This is a different matter. His announcement of his candidacy in 2015 led to increased cable news coverage. A few weeks later, his big speech on immigration in Arizona did the same. His 2024 announcement, coming a week after the midterms, caused more chatter on MSNBC than CNN or Fox News, which is telling in its own right. But recent rallies? No noticeable effect.

This apparent lack of interest in Trump overlaps with growing Republican indifference toward him. At the start of his 2016 campaign, fewer than half of Republicans liked him very much, according to YouGov polling. It increased during his presidency, ending in the mid-60s for most of the 2020s. Since then, though, there’s been a downward slide.

So far, even the aforementioned Florida governor is generating more passionate views from Republicans (and even 2020 Trump voters!) than Trump.

What does he have to offer Republicans? He’s a known quantity whose policy announcements — something he apparently abandoned in 2015 because he knew he didn’t need them — have been both unrealistic and uninteresting. (Semaphore’s David Weigel, though, Note (That some on the right don’t prefer him to anything.) His launch event was dragged out as “low-energy,” turning Trump’s 2016 establishment figure Jeb Bush against Trump, now himself. He is an establishment figure. His speeches this weekend were full of the same bromides and self-flattery as usual. Meanwhile, his opponents are gearing up to turn on him and his obvious failures, including the 2020 elections.

The real danger here is that this pattern is self-reinforcing. The more boring Trump becomes, the less likely he is to win the nomination — and the less we need to pay attention to what he has to say. In short order, his political career fizzles out, leaving him as the man who is taking NFTs to a hard-hitting, motivated base.

But, then again, we are yet to see how his social media avatar will change.

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