Twitter and the Oath of Office

Monday, December 5, 2022

Donald Trump’s latest example of J.L. Austin’s “speech act theory” showed up on Twitter the other day as a self-fulfilling Q&A:

“So, with the revelation of MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION in working closely with Big Tech Companies, the DNC, & the Democrat Party, do you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION? A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great “Founders” did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!
10,987 Reposts 30, 444 likes

7:41 a.m. December 4, 2022


Trump’s claim of “fraud” is based on Twitter’s refusal in 2020 to condone a misinformation campaign about a laptop owned by President Biden’s son, Hunter.

Debating with someone who is delusional risks succumbing to a fool’s errand, and yet Mr. Trump came perilously close to having his followers succeed in an insurrection against the Constitution of the United States a mere two years ago, so one must address this latest attempt to instigate rebellion.

It is almost infinitely unlikely that Mr. Trump would be able to perceive the contradictions in his statement, but let us humor a madman for a moment. Assuming that over 81,000,000 voters are willing to hand over the White House to someone who only got slightly over 74,000,000 rates, what exactly does Mr. Trump think will be the first thing he will be asked to do? He would be expected to place his hand on a Bible and say, “”I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Of course, maybe he’s planning to revise that oath: “”I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States to the best of my ability.” As in the days of telegram: STOP.

Perhaps Kevin McCarthy should shore up his chances of being elected Speaker of the House by promising to introduce a bill revising the oath of office as his first bit of business? After all, what’s the point of the last ten words of the current oath of office if it has been eviscerated by a man who cannot seem to remember that he himself suppressed information in the 2016 election? Did Donald Trump not have his lawyer convey “hush money” to an actress named Stormy Daniels? What was the point of that “hush money” if not to deceive the electorate? By Trump’s logic, should not an entirely new election have been immediately held, with that knowledge included in the discussion of the public sphere? How likely is it that a “new” election in December, 2016, would have resulted not just in Hillary Clinton once again winning the popular vote, but scoring a massive electoral college victory?

The saddest part of all this reprehensible behavior on the part of Mr. Trump is that there will be a new election in 2024 and that several million people will vote for him in primaries held to determine the final candidates for the office of the President of the United States in a term to begin in 2025. The question of the wording of the oath of office on January 20, 2025 remains up to debate. The “loose ball” theory of speech acts is bouncing higher than ever.

Comments are closed.