For such an obviously important figure, and one who retains much influence in American politics, and thus global politics, it just doesn’t feel right that Facebook has confirmed that he’ll be off the platform for two more years – past the next round of national elections – and Twitter’s life ban seems to be permanent.
It does seem bizarre, to say the least, even by the bizarre standards and ideas that Trump tries to impose on everyone else, such as that the 2020 election was rigged – a dangerous and persistent fantasy. He is a threat to liberty, to peace at home and abroad and to the US Constitution itself. But he still has a human right to speak, and he can exercise it, as he still does, through a variety of media, though his blog was an unsuccessful experiment.
Shutting him down on social media doesn’t actually shut him up or make him disappear as if in some fairytale. It just makes Facebook and Twitter appear to behave like the publishers they claim they are not.
They have a perfect right not to host him and to hold him to their rule book, and ban him if needs be, but I’d rather they did not. Because it makes me feel uncomfortable, just as banning extremists and extremist parties anywhere should make any democrat uneasy, for obvious reasons. That’s because you don’t defeat them by banning them; you marginalise them by winning the argument, fair and square.
Joe Biden beat Trump because of Trump’s record on Covid, because he had a better agenda for America, and because he got his electoral base out. The Democrats didn’t, and shouldn’t in future, win because their opponent has been taken off social media.
Let me double down on what a monster Trump is, though, and how much I fear a comeback. To my mind, Donald Trump should be doing time by now. I suspect that, were the imprecise processes not so (necessarily) difficult and political, he might have been convicted at least twice, and he faces a delicious range of civil and criminal cases concerning his activities before, during and after his tumultuous term as president.
The events of 6 January ought to be sufficient to end his public life. And yet he is still teasing us about a presidential run in 2024, and his supporters frankly don’t care what he gets up to anyway. He lost in a free election in 2020, but not by that much.
As of today, he’s not been found guilty in a court of law for anything in the recent past, and he is eligible to run for office, and he may well do.
So, within the law and within the rules of social media he should be let back, and his contributions checked for breaches of the law or the rule book. He’s no automatic right to be on any platform, but the public has a legitimate interest in what he has to say.
There are much worse than Trump out there on Twitter and Facebook after all, and he can be outright and argued with in public. He should have his say.