Donald Trump’s shallow thinking is perfect for Twitter

Graphic: Art of Mark Bryan

I’m angry and sad about the attack in Orlando, like every other thinking person today. But I’m trying to think long-term. Donald Trump isn’t.

What’s most at risk in a time of crisis is rational thought. We become prone to knee-jerk, short-term thinking. Leaders must be smarter than that. Donald Trump is not such a leader. And for a short-term, knee-jerk, emotionally reactive thinker, Twitter is the ideal medium.

Here’s are a couple of Trump tweets from yesterday.

Trump’s tweets are wrong

Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump has chosen to blame yesterday’s shooting on Islamic Terrorism, rather than assault weapons or homophobic hatred. Let’s attempt to follow Trump’s logic.

  • In what way was Donald Trump “right” on radical Islamic terrorism? Because he predicted that a radical Islamist would attack America? Is this what “I called it” means? The entire security apparatus of the US operates on the assumption that we are under attack by radical terrorists, so I don’t think Trump deserves credit for original thinking here.
  • What are “toughness and vigilance” and being “smart”? This is code for surveilling mosques and arresting people — and profiling an entire religion. He’s open to the idea of a database of American Muslims.
  • What “ban” is Trump taking credit for? Trump has called for a ban on Muslims entering the US, for blocking Syrian refugees, and for deporting illegal immigrants. Regardless of what you think of these policies, none of them would have stopped the Orlando shooter, Omar Mateen, who was an American citizen born in the United States. As Jeff Jarvis has pointed out, the logical next step of Trump’s policies would be concentration camps for Muslims.

Trump, Twitter, and shallow thinking

There’s a reason that Trump is better at Twitter than other candidates.

Twitter’s brevity makes it ideal for quick emotional reactions. It’s better for people reacting with their gonads than their brains. It appeals to emotions rather than thinking.

Terrorism is a complex problem. Profiling Muslims, within America or at the borders, would have consequences. It would end our principles of religious freedom and tolerance. It would would normalize hatred and prejudice. It would anger American allies who we count on in the fight against extremism. And it would cause the next shooter to act more secretly, but would not stop him.

Trump asks his followers to trust that he has the right attitudes and toughness, and that he will follow through. But everything about him is on the surface, none of it betrays systematic thinking. His campaign is reactive and poorly planned. There is no analysis of the long-term effect of his policies on civil liberties and our place in the world. He has no plan for working with Congress and shows contempt for the role of the judiciary.

His thinking does not extend past 140 characters.

Leaders lead in a time of crisis. Shallow thinkers just tweet.

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