President Kennedy’s ‘Twitter feed’ shows he faced many similar issues to President Trump

President Kennedy on Twitter @JohnFKennedy

From President Kennedy in the 1960s to President Trump in the present day seems like a massive gulf but a scroll through the issues featured on both men’s Twitter feeds shows that they faced many similar issues – albeit they looked upon them in contrasting ways.

For anyone doing a double take on the idea of President Kennedy having a twitter feed, it was set up by the  JFK Library Foundation for the Words Count campaign. It features some of Kennedy’s quotes as a way of  “inspiring a new generation with his message”.

A quick glance through the account shows that Kennedy would have been a natural on Twitter with his ability to put memorable thoughts into a short pithy sentences.

His famous quote from his inauguration speech is a good example.

Just as for President Trump today, immigration was an important issue in Kennedy’s time, with concerns among the public that too many people from different countries were being allowed in without sufficient scrutiny as to their backgrounds or their intentions.

Unlike Trump, who has tapped into those fears to gain support, Kennedy chose to challenge them, to try to change public opinion rather than accept it. You can sense his frustration as he says:

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President Kennedy took a different view to the current incumbent on the value of immigration and the benefit new arrivals brought to the United States. He had traced his own family tree all the way back to Wexford in Ireland and was influenced by the way each generation of the Kennedy clan had built on the work of the one that went before to enrich both themselves and the country as a whole. He was always fascinated by his Irish roots and referred to it often.

And like all presidents, he knew the value of the Irish vote and made sure he honoured his heritage and the contribution made by millions of Irish-Americans.

Like President Trump, Kennedy faced an inquisitive, challenging and often hostile media. His Democrat values were pilloried along with his Irish Catholic background. Unlike Trump, however, Kennedy accepted the tough questioning and decided to roll with it, accepting the old adage that a politician complaining about the press is like a farmer complaining about the weather. It’s just a fact of life.

During his election campaign, President Trump often spoke of putting America first and not getting embroiled in foreign affairs unless absolutely necessary. It was a move that struck a chord with many Americans, perhaps feeling scarred by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and numerous involvements like Syria.

But this quote from President Kennedy shows that the concern is not new, and even back then there was an acknowledgment that America could not be the policeman of the world righting every wrong.

President Trump has dismissed climate change as a hoax. It’s hard to imagine that Kennedy would have taken the same view. The need for environmental protection was already taking hold during his presidency, and he welcomed it enthusiastically.

 

One thing that would have united Kennedy and Trump was the rallying call to get people go and vote.

President Kennedy’s twitter feed is to be found at @JohnFKennedy

Did you know?

Female Irish warrior Grainne Ni Mhaile, or Grace O’Malley is one of the most colourful characters in Irish history. Born around 1530, she was a Pirate Queen and became a constant thorn in the side of British Queen Elizabeth I. Find out more.