By Len La Rocca
For a moment, on his flight aboard Air Force One from Puerto Rico to Washington D.C., President Trump’s focus wasn’t on rebuilding after Hurricane Maria — it was on blocking a student from The College of New Jersey on Twitter.
For Luke Kearney (‘19), a history alumnus and proud Democrat, being blocked from viewing the president’s tweets since Oct. 3, 2017 didn’t stop him from voting against Trump in 2020. He had seen enough.
“For ten seconds, I caught his attention. I pissed him off so much that he went onto my profile and hit block,” Kearney said. “You’d think he’d have more important things to do as the most powerful person in the world.”
Determined to voice his disapproval and criticize the thin-skinned president, Kearney made a bet with his mother that he would manage to get blocked by Trump before fall break. The prize: dinner at one of Kearney’s favorite Greek restaurants.
With notifications turned on for Trump’s tweets, Kearney was ready to criticize the president at a moment’s notice.
Midway through a homework session, the opportunity presented itself as Trump tweeted, “So proud of FEMA, Military and First Responders! Thank you.” Kearney sprung into action.
“FEMA isn’t proud of you. None of us are proud of you,” Kearney tweeted, recalling Trump’s insults aimed at the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carmen Yulín Cruz, and the people of Puerto Rico after falling victim to the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the commonwealth since 1928, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Although unable to take Kearney’s criticism, Trump was unafraid to dish it out in the days leading up to his Puerto Rico trip, when he tweeted, “Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help.” He went on to describe Cruz as a “politically motivated ingrate.”
With that in mind and his overall disapproval of Trump’s actions, Kearney felt more than justified to harshly critique the president.
Kearney’s tweet went viral, amassing 1,200 likes and amplifying the voices of those who opposed the Trump administration.
Having to type quickly so his tweet got exposure, Kearney fired off critiques based on the wording of the many attacks Trump has launched at countless targets on Twitter.
“I took his words, flipped it and it was within a second or two of when he tweeted,” Kearney said. “So when people were seeing his new tweet, I was getting a lot of engagement and it kind of snowballed into becoming the top tweet on his tweet.”
A federal appeals court ruled Trump’s blocking of critics to be unconstitutional in 2019, according to The New York Times, but Kearney remains blocked — a fact he is happy to advertise atop his Twitter profile.
“He doesn’t like seeing bad news … that extends over to the Twitter universe,” Kearney said. “He doesn’t like seeing opposition to what he’s saying.”
He won the bet and got his gyro dinner. But Kearney, along with a large portion of America, was hungry for more. The ballot was now on their menu.
Kearney blocked back, choosing to follow President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris instead.