Time to Become @POTUS

Brian Gongol

Dear Mr. President-Elect:

On January 20th, I hope you will change your Twitter handle.

You have obviously been wildly enthusiastic about your account (@realdonaldtrump) -- and it has clearly had an impact far beyond your 17.7 million followers. But the moment you take the oath of office, I hope you realize that you're no longer yourself.

Upon assuming the office of the President, you become something greater than yourself. You become something more important than yourself. You also become something different than you have ever been: On January 20th, you become the servant of the people.

You still have your name, of course, and you will have it when your time in office is over. Whether that name is higher or lower in stature after that time is up to you. But while you are in office, you are not Donald Trump. You are "Mr. President".

And if you intend to continue tweeting, then you can't be @realdonaldtrump anymore. You have to become @POTUS.

The account already exists. President Obama has used it about 300 times so far. And he's obligated to turn it over to you upon your accession to the Presidency, just like he has to turn over the keys (metaphorically speaking) to the White House, the Presidential motorcade, Marine One, and Air Force One.

You're obligated to use those, too. And the Secret Service.

The office is bigger than you. The duties are greater than any of us (save the handful of living former Presidents) have the capacity to imagine. And the things that come with it aren't really the "trappings of office", as people sometimes call them. They are the institutional tools of the Presidency. Like library books, they don't belong to you -- and you have to return them, undamaged, when your time is up.

Your careful custodianship of all of these tools of office is voluntary, up to the moment your left hand is placed on the Bible and your right hand is raised towards the sky. But at the moment you utter the words "preserve, protect, and defend", you become a guardian of the public trust and of all of the things that go with it. At that moment, it is no longer a choice. If you don't want to be responsible for them, you can choose not to use them -- by declining to assume the office.

As of that moment, your family cannot choose to employ private security contractors. You become wards of the Secret Service.

As of that moment, you cannot live out of Trump Tower or your hotel in Washington. You become a resident of the White House, the most well-known home business (and government housing) in the world.

As of that moment, there is no more flying in your Boeing 757. There is no more deal-making to license out your name and likeness. There is no dual employment between your privately-held interests and the Executive Branch. You like to say that the people knew what we were getting when they voted in November 8th. But the same is true of you: All of the obligations, duties, responsibilities, and constraints that go with the office were well-known to you the moment you stepped onto that escalator on June 16, 2015.

Surely you want the world to follow you on Twitter just as much after the inauguration as before. And you may consider it a blow to move from an account in your own name with 17.7 million followers to an account in the name of the office with 12.7 million. But, like everything else that will change on January 20th, it's not about you. It's about the office. And you must make every change that goes with it, whether symbolic or substantial.

Putting your personal Twitter account on hiatus and adopting @POTUS for a while? That symbolic step is, in fact, the very least you can do. But symbols only matter so much as we choose to invest them with meaning -- and, based on your tweet count (34,200), you have clearly invested a great deal of meaning in being @realdonaldtrump.

On January 20th, you must invest even more meaning in being @POTUS. If you cannot commit to that, the time to tell the world is now.