In strictly political terms, it could well give buoyancy to Trump and his supporters — a new cause for the grievance that fuels them. The moves comes at precisely the moment that his movement looked like it had been fatally punctured, due to the cumulative effects of Trump losing the 2020 presidential election, Democrats winning the Senate in Georgia special elections and even once-loyal Trump Republicans expressing disgust with his culpability in Wednesday’s insurrection.
In a way, Twitter’s move highlights the essential conundrum of the Age of Trump. His pathetic braying about a “stolen election” shows contempt for democracy. But he is a force to be reckoned with — the only reason it is worth banning his account in the first place — because he has scores of millions of people who believe deeply in him. His attack on democracy is also a perverse expression of democracy.
In historical terms, Twitter is swimming — possibly with limp strokes — against currents that have come to define not only contemporary politics but the broader culture as well. Perhaps Twitter feels its gesture is sufficiently resonant, and its influence in public discourse so central, that it can change those currents. Quite the feat, if so.