Opinion: How Elon Musk could change the course of the 2024 election

Musk, a staunch free-speech advocate who has used Twitter to spread misinformation and mock politicians, has already suggested he would work with the company to make “significant improvements,” though it’s unclear what those plans might be and whether they’ll come to fruition. good term. . Meanwhile, some conservatives are calling on Musk to let Trump back on the platform after the former president was permanently discontinued two days after the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol “because of the risk of further incitement to violence.”
“Now that @ElonMusk is the largest shareholder in Twitter, it’s time to lift political censorship. Oh…and BRING TRUMP BACK!” Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert tweeted. Twitter spokespeople have said that management and employees make those political decisions, not the board.

The possibility of Trump regaining access to Twitter could have a significant impact on the 2024 Republican primary, assuming the former president plans to run again. Twitter was integral to Trump’s political success and, if his accounts are restored, would have enormous influence in securing the Republican presidential nomination and improving his standing in the general election.

Six months after he was suspended from Twitter, I called a meeting with the former president and a group of other historians who were working on a book about his time in office. In response to a question about his use of Twitter, Trump appeared to brush off the blow of losing access to his social media accounts, saying posting press releases on his website was “much more elegant.” But it is undeniable that Trump’s presence in the public square has diminished significantly since he was suspended from various social media platforms. And months after our meeting, Trump filed a court filing to try to reinstate his Twitter account (a judge rejected his argument and granted Twitter’s motion to transfer the Florida lawsuit to the Northern District Court of California). Meanwhile, his efforts to build an alternative social media platform have so far run into trouble.

Trump relied on Twitter to communicate directly with the public in an informal and unedited way. Although we still don’t know how much was written and if certain tweets were written by White House staff, Trump’s Twitter account was a source of constant commentary. He used the platform to attack his opponents, spread disinformation for his political advantage, and mock foreign leaders like North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

But more important to Trump was the way he used Twitter to shape the 24-hour news cycle. Whether he was aware of his strategy or not, Trump had an innate sense of the way the modern media is drawn to controversy, provocative statements and sensational stories. With a willingness to communicate without barriers, Trump was able to shape the day’s news with just a few words on Twitter. When you’re a powerful leader willing to say just about anything, whether it’s outlandish statements, inflammatory words, or just nonsensical comments, it’s a safe bet that the media coverage will follow. Do you remember covfefe?

Indeed, the campaign to delegitimize the 2020 election was based in part on Trump’s repeated Twitter outbursts that fueled his narrative. What we saw on January 6 was a veritable crowd that gathered across the world of social media, chanting slogans that came from Trump’s Twitter feed as they stormed Capitol Hill.

If Trump is going to make a political comeback in 2024, Twitter could be a game changer for him. Without access to this outlet, he will find it enormously difficult to recreate the strategy that got him to the White House in 2016, especially with a new generation of Trumpian Republicans like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis ready to stir up controversy and feed red meat. to the base

If Musk’s presence on the board somehow leads to a change in politics, the Republican primary — and the future of the country — will likely look very different.

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