Opinion

The case for and against Trump's return to Twitter

The sharpest opinions on the debate from around the web

On Monday, Elon Musk bought Twitter for a whopping $44 billion, promising to unlock the social media service's "tremendous potential" by defending what he called the "bedrock of a functioning democracy," free speech. Now the question everyone is asking is, will Musk allow for the return of ex-President Donald Trump?

Musk has yet to explicitly address any plans to lift Trump's permanent suspension, which was enacted after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, but strategists, analysts, and lawmakers are all but certain that a decision is coming. Trump, meanwhile, claims he plans to stay off Twitter — even if invited back.

But if Musk ultimately does clear the way for the return of @RealDonaldTrump, as is expected, what will that mean for the GOP, Democrats, and Trump himself?

1

The political angle

While the conservative world has generally responded positively to the idea of a Musk-owned Twitter, strategists have pointed out some plausible GOP drawbacks to a Trump return. For one thing, reinstating Trump's account could bring about "a migraine headache for Republicans, who have not missed the tweets and the barrage of questions from the Trump-generated outrage du jour," longtime GOP strategist Doug Heye mused to Politico

"He has the world's biggest microphone on Twitter," opined another Republican working on GOP campaigns. "He could do a lot of good with it — or bad. It will make every GOP politician's life more difficult."

Musk's decision on the matter would also "inevitably influence political outcomes," tweeted journalist Celeste Headlee, "but also spread misinformation." Noah Berlatsky, reporting for The Independent, posited similarly, centering the focus of his argument on the billionaire's political point of view: "Musk has been a vehement opponent of Democratic proposals to tax billionaires at higher rates. Boosting Trump back into office would be one effective way to stymie such proposals for the foreseeable future."

2

A good thing for the haters?

Though Democrats are wary of the deal's implications for Big Tech and online misinformation, some actually see a possible upside to a Trump return.

"Trump being back on Twitter is terrible for the country, but really good news for Democrats" politically, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told HuffPost's Igor Bobic. And maybe forcing Republicans to "actually defend all the insanity Trump's feed would push into the public square would be a good unto itself," The Bulwark suggested.

But not every Democrat (or at least every Never-Trumper) has the same outlook. For instance, for Sens. Maisie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), concerns regarding the spread of false information and possible insurrection-inciting violent rhetoric seem to outweigh any possible schadenfreude Democrats might enjoy from a messy Trump comeback.

Meanwhile, the return of the former president could (and, by some estimations, should) also serve as a good reason for the media to alter its coverage of Trump's 240-character missives, especially after failing to get it right the first time. "[I]f Trump does return to Twitter," Joel Mathis wrote for The Week, "the media needs to be prepared and thoughtful about how to cover him. Otherwise, they'll just be accomplices to another flood."

3

Trump needs Twitter

Trump has said there's no way he returns to Twitter, even with an invitation — but almost no one, including his advisers, believes that. He'll need Twitter should he want to resurrect any sort of political profile, considering his homegrown Truth Social isn't exactly getting the job done.

"There is no faster way for Trump to be front and center [in] the political conversation than rejoining Twitter," GOP strategist Doug Heye told Politico, "and he knows that."

"If he's the Republican nominee [in 2024] or if he's a major candidate, I think regardless of whether it's Elon Musk, I think probably anyone at Twitter would find a hard time saying that that person should be denied access to the platform," Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) recently mused while speaking with CNBC. "I just don't think you can keep a Republican leading contender off a platform unless there's, again, repeated bad action." 

Arwa Mahdawi has suggested the same, writing for The Guardian: "If Trump has any hope of making a political comeback, then Musk is his best bet."

Recommended

Rep. Jamie Raskin: Jan. 6 committee 'aware of' call from White House to rioter
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.).
capitol riot aftermath

Rep. Jamie Raskin: Jan. 6 committee 'aware of' call from White House to rioter

What's next for the Jan. 6 committee?
Liz Cheney.
Briefing

What's next for the Jan. 6 committee?

Biden surprises Elton John with National Humanities Medal
Jill Biden, Elton John, Joe Biden
'Flabbergasted'

Biden surprises Elton John with National Humanities Medal

Kevin McCarthy rolls out House GOP 'Commitment to America'
Kevin McCarthy
Promises Promises

Kevin McCarthy rolls out House GOP 'Commitment to America'

Most Popular

7 toons about DeSantis and Abbott's migrant relocation
Political Cartoon.
Feature

7 toons about DeSantis and Abbott's migrant relocation

Arizona judge bans abortion statewide by reinstating 1864 law
Pro-choice rally in Tucson
Abortion Fights

Arizona judge bans abortion statewide by reinstating 1864 law

Biden surprises Elton John with National Humanities Medal
Jill Biden, Elton John, Joe Biden
'Flabbergasted'

Biden surprises Elton John with National Humanities Medal