Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

John Pitney

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© 2020 Bryn S Edwards


From threats, to hate speech, to potential criminal statements, Donald Trump has made use of Twitter like no president or world leader before him. His presidency and communication strategy have been defined by his “tweetstorms” and a consequent slew of legal issues. The prolific rate of his tweeting has made large-scale analyses difficult as they quickly become dated.

Nevertheless, this thesis has aimed for a more holistic analysis by uniquely linking trends in his tweeting to its perceived social consequences, situating this work in a long line of analyses of presidential rhetoric and media strategies. Moreover, it assesses Trump’s use of Twitter as an abuse of power and argues that it is degrading the fabric of our democracy. It focuses on three distinct aspects of his tweeting: the devaluation of truth, its rhetoric altering reality and degrading rule of law. Drawing on public opinion polls, psychology studies, and tweet-by-tweet analyses of rhetorical and legal implications, the findings of this work suggest that Trump’s tweeting is damaging our democracy on a variety of levels. This is the realization of thousands of years of worries — from Socrates to the Framers — of a populist demagogue who would incite the masses with fiery rhetoric. This thesis recommends improved civic education and social media literacy programs, and advocates holding social media platforms accountable for the information, or misinformation allowed on platforms that may have damaging effects on individuals or a society.