This past week, we saw President Trump post his now infamous “covfefe” tweet and his subsequent humorous response. Many Americans responded with a series of mostly tongue-in-cheek news reports and analyses exploring the word’s potential meaning. The word was obviously a typographical error, and the media response was generally light and fun.
However, the episode underscored the power of the President’s personal Twitter account to influence the news cycle. We need to consider how Americans should respond to other more serious postings by our president.
Why So Serious?
We live in a time when a single error can inspire parodies and widespread humorous speculation. As such, the power of more serious content to affect public opinion is difficult to overstate. It makes sense, therefore, that some people attempt to analyze President Trump’s Twitter feed and other public utterances.
However, doing so does little to answer important questions. In focusing solely on the President’s words, those who seek to determine the course of his administration–and, by extension, the nation at large–are depriving themselves of critical information.
Don’t Get Overwhelmed–Get Informed
We know that President Trump is a deal-maker. He is also more adept at manipulating public discourse than any President in recent memory. His public persona reflects that.
The President is not the sole source of power in the United States federal government. In reality, a large number of individuals who lack the microphone of President Trump operate various levers of government power. Despite their relative anonymity, these officials are collectively no less influential in terms of shaping public policy. That knowledge should be comforting.
We live in a nation in which authority is divided across a range of individuals and organizations. That should make us more confident in our knowledge and our leaders. It will also keep us calm when we see occasional erratic tweets from the White House.
If we want substantive change to come out of Washington, we must scrutinize far more than what our President has to say on Twitter. So before you panic, have a cup of covfefe, calm down, and look at the bigger picture.