2017 became the year of the Twitter Presidency – but it wasn’t all about @RealDonaldTrump. From social movements to political movements, causes to humor, here are the 10 tweets that we feel carried the most weight this year.
"No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion..." pic.twitter.com/InZ58zkoAm
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 13, 2017
In a year which saw Nazis marching in American tweets, millions of Muslims banned from our shores, a disabled girl separated from her family to be deported immediately after surgery and the term “white nationalism” dominating the airwaves, President Obama’s reminder that racial hatred is a learned behavior came at a critical time. Whether we heed those words remains to be seen.
I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2017
This tweet has a good shot at becoming the most influential tweet of 2018, depending on the outcome of the Mueller investigation. While Trump’s personal criminal defense lawyer later claimed to have written this for Trump, linguists and political analysts believe it was written by Trump himself. Regardless, the seeming admission that there was collusion with Russia reverberated through the halls of power this year, and may reshape the presidency.
Looks like I FINALLY got verified by Twitter. I must be the only working class white advocate with that distinction. pic.twitter.com/IMXqtmhgvn
— Jason Kessler (@TheMadDimension) November 7, 2017
White Supremacist Jason Kessler, who helped organize the Charlottesville, VA rally which resulted in the death of counter protester Heather Hayer, posted this tweet after receiving the “blue checkmark” indicating his was a verified Twitter account. The backlash was immediate and fierce, and ultimately forced Twitter to change its policies regarding both verified accounts and how it responds to hate speech.
I cannot in good conscience vote for Graham-Cassidy. A bill impacting so many lives deserves a bipartisan approach. https://t.co/2sDjhw6Era pic.twitter.com/30OWezQpLg
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) September 22, 2017
With this tweet, and his related vote, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) killed the Congressional Republicans’ attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. At the time, it was seen as a defining act of defiance from an ailing public servant near the end of his career. It was also a devastating blow to the Trump Administration, who’s failure on this measure capped months of consistent inability to succeed on virtually any legislative initiative despite his party holding majorities in both houses of Congress.
I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2017
Emblematic of many other Trump tweets, this particular missive attempts to undermine both the FBI’s former director James Comey AND independent prosecutor Robert Mueller who was appointed to investigate the Trump Administration. Trump has had many such tweets attacking Mueller, Comey, the FBI, attempting to undermine confidence in the very executive branch he heads.
....Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming.....
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
This tweet, from July, showed the first divide between the Trump Administration and the military. Following the issuing of this tweet, the Joint Chiefs were forced to clarify that a Tweet does not constitute a lawful order, and that they will not be taking action based on this tweet. A later Executive Order attempting to ban trans men and women from military service was blocked by an appellate court this month.
— Leeann Tweeden (@LeeannTweeden) November 16, 2017
With this controversial Tweet, radio and television personality Leeann Tweeden started the avalanche which ended the career of possible 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Al Franken. While some claim Tweeden’s story was released in collusion with conservative talk radio mouthpiece Roger Stone, the photo evidence, Tweeden’s story, and the several women who came forth with similar stories painted a damning picture of Franken. When a majority of the Democrats in the Senate called for Franen’s resignation, he agreed to leave his seat at the end of the month.
With this, Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL)kicked off a sobering examination of how President Trump interacts with the surviving family members of fallen servicemembers. Rep. Wilson was in the car with Myeshia Johnson, whose husband LaDavid Johnson was killed in American military action in Niger. During the call, Trump claimed of Johnson that “he knew what he was getting into” and appeared to struggle to remember his name. While not the first disagreement Trump had with the members of Gold Star families, this particular fumbling highlighted a number of shortcomings of Trump’s administration – including the fact that he did not write or call a number of families of fallen soldiers (until the story broke and letters were rushed out, that his), had not kept his promise to send $25,000 to the father of a fallen solder (again, until the story broke), and kicked off a full-throated attack on Mrs. Johnson from the Commander-in-Chief of the Army in which her husband served and died. Of many low points, this may have been the lowest for this Administration.
@POTUS It is not that you do not get it; you are incapable of fulfilling the moral imperative to help the people of PR. Shame on you.!
— Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) October 12, 2017
Following Hurricane Maria, FEMA was quick to get Florida back in working order. The same cannot be said of Puerto Rico, home to nearly 3.5 million American citizens. As the island was without water or power, a tiny two-man company from the hometown of interior secretary Ryan Zinke – and founded by Republican donors – was given a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars to bring power back to the island. According to San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, the company did not respond nearly fast enough and she held an impassioned press conference begging for help. Trump responded in a series of tweets obliquely attacking Cruz, blaming the people of Puerto Rico for their own difficulty, and threatening to end aid. Cruz responded with the above tweet, and brought millions of supporters from around the world to her aid. Whitefish, the company in question, was lost its $300 Million contract. Months later, much of Puerto Rico is still without power, and the Trump Administration faces tough criticism for not doing enough to help its citizens.
NOTE: Alyssa Milano is the Publisher of PatriotNotPartisan.com, and someone I consider a dear personal friend. She was not involved in the conception, writing, editing, or compiling of this article in any way.
It is hard to imagine that a simple tweet could have reverberated through our culture the way this tweet did. In support of her friend Rose McGowan, who had just outed Harvey Weinstein as a sexual predator, Milano sent this tweet and went to bed. What happened overnight was astonishing.
Unknown to Milano at the time, she was following in the footsteps of Tarana Burke, and activist who started using MeToo in 2007 to bring support and visibility to women of color who were victims of sexual abuse. She and Burke are now friends and allies, working together to advance this cause.
Millions of women, and some men, from around the world responded, adding their stories of sexual abuse and harassment to the flood. This tweet has changed government, bringing down powerful politicians of both parties in the United States. It has shaken the entertainment industry to its core. It has forced us to rethink how we interact with each other, and hopefully it has opened the eyes of millions of men to how they treat women in their lives. Most importantly, perhaps, it has allowed victims to be seen, to be heard, to be believed.
The courageous women who shared their stories as part of the #MeToo movement were honored as Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year.” The impact of the movement is just beginning to be felt, and next year’s award shows and elections will be telling in just how powerful these strong victims have become.
With 182.5 Billion tweets sent this year, we probably missed some that you think were among the most important. What do you think were the most influential tweets of the year? Let us know in the comments section.
Contributing Editor: Ben Jackson
Ben Jackson is a writer and father of a chronically ill teenager who somehow still likes him. His non-fiction and opinion pieces have appeared in Patch Media, WBUR's Cognoscenti, and the Penmen Review. His fiction and poetry has been published in New Millennium Writings, The Legendary, 50 Word Stories, and anywhere else he can con an editor into buying his work. He lives in Natick, Massachusetts with his daughter.