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The poetic genius of Truth Social America's business model is broken

A persecuted man. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A persecuted man. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images


April 2, 2024   4 mins

In recent weeks, the campaign to stop Donald Trump from once again reaching the White House has grown increasingly surreal. From the start, the lawfare against the former president had a very scattershot character, like a shotgun fired from the hip: even if most cases against him failed, the hope was clearly that at least one or two would stick. And the gamble appeared to pay off: for a moment, Trump was staring down the prospect of having to pay a bond amounting to almost half-a-billion dollars as a result of one fraud case.

Given the way the lawfare against Trump was conducted, however, it doesn’t really matter whether this particular case had merit or not, or whether Trump really did engage in fraud or not. Both sides in this political dispute made up their minds long ago.

But even when it seemed that Trump had finally been cornered by some truly insurmountable legal costs, serendipity appeared to once again intervene on his behalf. The tiny social media platform, Truth Social, which Trump helped to create partly in response to having his Facebook and Twitter accounts banned, last week went public, leading to a truly staggering explosion of the company’s value. Like a phoenix, Trump’s fortunes seemed set to rise from the ashes yet again — only for Truth Social’s stock to plummet yesterday.

Now, there’s really no way to spin it: Truth Social is a joke as a company. Founded mostly as a result of a specific, parochial political grievance, it has a minuscule user base and almost no revenue streams to speak of. Even the business models of today’s largest social media companies are questionable in the long-term, especially now that the fairy-tale period of permanent zero interest rate policies seems to be over. If Twitter can’t turn a profit, then Truth Social definitely can’t.

Still, even despite yesterday’s collapse, to say that Truth Social is a foolish investment is to miss the point. The company that owns Truth Social — Trump Media & Technology Group — has the stock ticker “DJT”, which is itself very revealing. Just as the courts, which are meant to be impartial and non-political, can be weaponised in the ongoing war between America’s two political tribes, so can stock purchases. Though stocks are in theory expressions of non-political, cold economic logic, in practice, they can be easily turned into a political cudgel. Indeed, many people buying Truth Social stock are doing so in order to both literally and figuratively invest in Donald J. Trump — though others are probably hoping to pass on the stock to a greater fool down the road. To be clear, this isn’t the first time stock purchases have become a backdrop for political drama; a while back, the stock of the video game retailer, GameStop, became the centre of a similar campaign of buying a stock as a form of revenge.

In any event, the result will be the same: an almost voluntary, “consensual” stock market bubble, where few people are likely to have any illusions as to what the end point of it all is. In a way, the Truth Social gambit is actually incredibly inspired: in the US, political campaign donations are ring-fenced with a massive number of rules and regulations. Investing in $DJT, on the other hand? That is every man, woman and child’s unalienable and unrestricted economic right.

“Investing in Truth Social is every man, woman and child’s unalienable and unrestricted economic right.” 

In this way, Trump has, entirely by accident, run rings around the entire campaign finance regulatory framework. The same logic of “us-versus-them” that allowed American liberals to approve of any attempt to stop Trump from running for president, no matter how spurious or far-fetched, is now on display in equal measure from the opposite side of the political divide. It’s hard to shake the feeling that the battle between Trump and his political enemies is starting to resemble something out of an old cartoon show. Like Bugs Bunny battling it out against his arch-nemesis Elmer Fudd, neither Trump nor his enemies are ever truly defeated. As the show goes on, each side simply comes up with increasingly bizarre methods to get their enemy into trouble or escape it themselves.

But this is not a laughing matter. Even though the individual twists and turns in this political drama may seem absurd or humorous, the underlying truth is that the American political system is rapidly being destroyed. A functioning republic requires a base level of respect for political opponents, and that is now being torched on both sides. Worse yet, the US is inching closer to a massive financial crisis and even real bankruptcy, as the constantly increasing levels of debt will sooner or later result in a situation where the burden of interest payments breaks the federal budget.

This combination of acute social and economic problems, and a political system so mired in infighting and mutual hatred that it can’t focus on anything else, is — and this is putting it mildly — not a happy one. Yet this is exactly the situation in which the US finds itself. There is no longer any real possibility of fixing the fiscal situation at all; the most recent numbers show that the US is now adding debt at a ground-breaking pace of roughly $1 trillion per three months. To get a sense of what this means in practice, it now takes slightly less than three months for the US to add enough debt to make its added interest payments larger than the annual budget of the entire US Marine Corps. This is in no way sustainable even over the short term; yet the US political class is too obsessed with infighting, grandstanding and demagoguery of various kinds to even notice the very real iceberg that is now straight ahead of them.

Given that neither Trump nor Biden nor anyone else seems able to escape this dynamic, 2024 might turn out to be one of those elections where there is no winner. For who seriously still believes that either man has got what it takes to turn over a new leaf in 2025 and heal all that has been poisoned, and repair what is now being broken? Perhaps, at a time like this, we find the true poetic genius of the Truth Social scheme: like the American political system, it doesn’t even pretend to have a business model anymore.


Malcom Kyeyune is a freelance writer living in Uppsala, Sweden

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Peter Lee
Peter Lee
3 months ago

Trump does seem to be a winner and come out on top.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

He’s certainly a very sore loser.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

It’s quite hard to fail when you’re born that rich to be fair

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
3 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

It’s really not, you know. Second generation wealth evaporates more often than not.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
3 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

I disagree. When you’ve got the amount of money he had (and a famous name) you can literally keep trying out different ideas until one sticks with no real consequences if it goes wrong. Bankruptcy ruin most ordinary people, he’s had it multiple times to no effect

Madas A. Hatter
Madas A. Hatter
3 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Especially when an idea fails and you solve the problem by failing to pay all the small businesses you owe money to and can afford to tie your creditors up in legal fights forever, a tactic he used as a matter of routine.

Elizabeth Bowen
Elizabeth Bowen
3 months ago

*Taylor Swift and her father manically confabulating over breakfast at 5:45 AM.*

Elizabeth Bowen
Elizabeth Bowen
3 months ago

There is a winner of every election, FYI

Elizabeth Bowen
Elizabeth Bowen
3 months ago

Your band needs a financial advisor.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
3 months ago

I think you know what I meant, Elizabeth.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
3 months ago

I don’t get the point of this article. It’s filler.

J Bryant
J Bryant
3 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

Really? It’s not hard to understand (Kyeyune tends to write shorter articles with limited depth). The US political and economic systems are broken. 2024 is likely to be the last election fought between representatives of the old social and economic order. No one knows what comes next, but it probably won’t be good, at least not in the short term.
Speaking purely for myself, there is strong sense of change in the air. It is long overdue, and whether older people of my generation (or older) approve of it, a new order will emerge in the US election of 2028. Trump and Biden are the ghosts of Christmas Past.

Buena Vista
Buena Vista
3 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

You’re not wrong, Sam. The author doesn’t have the courage to blame the Democrats for their evil ways and acute TDS, so he has to attempt to also blame Donald Trump for… something, anything, whatever.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
3 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

And shallow filler at that.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
3 months ago

I enjoyed this essay. Even though I grudgingly support Trump, to expect him to deliver fiscal responsibility is wishful thinking.

Mark Brown
Mark Brown
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

God Almighty likes Trump.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
3 months ago

Not a very satisfactory article. It simply describes the dilemma that Americans face without even attempting to deal with the underlying causes: the parasitism of the graduate class, the corruption of even the lowliest democratic processes by Wall Street money and the degeneracy of academia into pseudo-science and soft bigotry. I expect better from Unherd.

Skink
Skink
3 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

“2024 might turn out to be one of those elections where there is no winner”
Ya don’t say? For this I wasted a few minutes of my life? LOL

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 months ago

Given the way the lawfare against Trump was conducted, however, it doesn’t really matter whether this particular case had merit or not, or whether Trump really did engage in fraud or not.
Therein lies the root of the problem – using the legal system as a weapon against political opponents. It’s not what first-world nations do and when “it doesn’t really matter” if a case has merit or not, you have entered tinpot dictatorship territory with the purges soon to follow. Trump reacted to a situation of the administration’s making, an unforced error that Biden acolytes still believe is going to result in jail time. It won’t. No sane person thinks it will.
As to economics, yes, the debt keeps rising and it is as bipartisan a result as anything that comes out of DC. The debt will continue to rise until the enterprise crashes because no one has the courage to hold the line on spending, let alone reduce it. And anyone who does vote against more largesse stands a fair chance of losing at the next election because we have made it politically advantageous for people to do the wrong thing.

Damon Hager
Damon Hager
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

“Therein lies the root of the problem – using the legal system as a weapon against political opponents. It’s not what first-world nations do.”

Yep. This is the kind of dumb behaviour that sheer, blind hatred leads to. I’m a staunch (British) conservative, so you can guess where my sympathies lie. Nonetheless, I feel that both sides need to “simmer down, y’all”.
But they won’t.
Buy Swiss francs and yuan. And perhaps gold.

Simon S
Simon S
3 months ago

#RobertKennedyJnr

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
3 months ago
Reply to  Simon S

Well he’s an interesting alternative, but he isn’t going to fix the economy either.
it might be amusing to watch if he does well enough to foul up the electoral college

simon lamb
simon lamb
3 months ago

“Just as the courts, which are meant to be impartial and non-political, can be weaponised in the ongoing war between America’s two political tribes” I don’t where he has been hiding that he know’s so little about them, but these are real charges for real crimes often brought by Trump-appointed judges, and only allowed to be prosecuted if allowed by a Grand Jury. Duh. I’m wasting no more time on this ignorant and self-satisfied article. Disappointing of Unherd to waste my time with it

El Uro
El Uro
3 months ago
Reply to  simon lamb

What about Jon Stewart apartment?

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
3 months ago
Reply to  simon lamb

The preposterous is also real. Doesn’t make it right.

Steven Targett
Steven Targett
3 months ago

If the US sinks then so does the rest of the free world. Better brush up on my Mandarin.

Mark Melvin
Mark Melvin
3 months ago

The author made some early fun findings and points before self immolation. The US is not existentially and fiscally f****d. it is at 97% GDP, tough but not yet disastrous. Japan has 300% and has as corrupt a political system as you could wish. The US has problems of course but please some perspective. Janet Yellen’s target is less than 2% GDP debt service cost which is some way off still. Problems abound but not yet this one although Ms Yellen do please pay attention. Try another avenue.

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark Melvin

It’s no more f***ed than any other country, especially Europe.
All of our politicians are so short termist they would rather spend money they don’t have than take the political pain of raining in spending to a sustainable level.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark Melvin

Ah…an exponent of the Magic Money Tree. At $1 trillion deficit every 3 months (that’s $416 million every hour!) and interest rates rising again, not falling, how long do you think it will take for debt service to become the largest item in the Federal budget, bigger even than the bloated US military budget? Not to mention the huge unfunded deficits of social security and Medicare which take your 97% GDP closer to 150%.
But Janet Yellen says we’re on target. Well, that’s reassuring

Madas A. Hatter
Madas A. Hatter
3 months ago

Trump tried openly to rig the election in Georgia. Fact. When that failed he whipped up a riot to stop the election result being implemented. Fact. He outrageously over-valued his assets with the result that he deprived lenders of the higher interest rates they were entitled to vis-Ă -vis the risk of the loans. Fact. This is not ‘lawfare’. It is holding a criminal to account. When politics prevent the law from taking its course, that’s when you have a tin-pot dictatorship.