Twitter users Monday reported some unusual activity. While not verified by any official sources at this point, it appeared that President Trump — or someone else in an administrative capacity sympathetic to him — had begun blocking Twitter accounts critical of the president. Among those reportedly blocked was comedy writer Bess Kalb of “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
Kalb tweeted a screen shot accompanied by a short, but stinging rebuttal. “OH. MY. EFFING. GOD. The President of the United States just blocked me on Twitter because I hurt his feelings. #MAGA” Other users, critical of Trump, his policies, and his administration soon verified Kalb’s report when they, too, were blocked.
Meanwhile, in Florida, one woman’s old-school protest has met resistance similar to Kalb’s digital shutdown. A plywood anti-Trump sign in her Melbourne yard keeps disappearing and last Friday night, she reported it burned. She has said the local sheriff suggested to her that she keep her opinions to herself rather than address the vandals who violated her First Amendment rights.
In Kalb’s case, the digital blocking has only fueled the fires of those committed to resisting Trump’s fascist tendencies. The retribution on Monday arrived swiftly and in numbers, coming to Kalb’s defense and heaping additional criticisms on the failing president. On the coast of Florida, a new anti-Trump sign appeared on a fresh piece of plywood. As much of an environmental impact it has, the time has come for a forest of signs to plant themselves on the front lawn of every one of Trump’s properties.
If the President of the United States has nothing better to do that sift through the Twitterverse to block meanies then he is not devoting enough time to reading the bills bullied through congress. He’s not going the extra mile to reform taxes like he promised. And he’s certainly not upholding the Constitution (as he is sworn to) in trampling on the individual right of expression and free speech and allowing his supporters to do so unchecked.
The United States is $19.8 trillion in debt, yet somehow the White House can justify paying a public official to monitor Twitter and advise the president on who to block. If Trump is so delicate that he cannot sustain critical tweets and a plywood sign, Americans have to start asking what happens when his term expires.
Every president enters the White House knowing — with absolute assurance — that eight years is the maximum limit of his leadership. It is a set-in-stone fact of American democracy that every politician, pundit, and voter must accept. Until now…
The rule-ignoring and rights-trampling Trump administration and his constituency have set an early precedent for a troubling end of term scenario in Trumpington. The president’s own arrogance and inability to face his detractors has the potential to lead to the most daunting of political showdowns in American history: supposing he can stay the course, would Trump and his supporters relinquish power after a four- or eight-year term?
The scenario is something of conspiracy theory and Hollywood drama, but in reality is both possible and probable. Trump has surrounded himself with family members, who have been instantly elevated to high offices. He has limited the flow of information and transparency. He has built foreign alliances with dictators and oligarchs. With just the slightest bit of imagination, the facts are frightening. It would not be the first time that, in a time of crisis, a secretary of state attempted to exercise a power grab. If Trump stacks his deck right, any one of his minions could step in with no questions asked, to continue the regime in 2025.
While some would say that it’s only a comedy writer who was blocked, or it’s just a plywood sign, the consequences of minimizing the act carry deeper long-term concerns. Every tweet and every sign is a reminder to the president that his power is limited — regardless of how omnipotent he believes himself to be. So, pay attention to Jimmy Kimmel tonight because a hero wrote it; and plant a tree in Oregon, because there’s another hero in Florida who is going to need a lot of signs over the next few years.