Of all the abnormal things related to President Donald Trump’s first year in office, none has more consistently vexed me than this: Why oh why does he capitalize certain words — that absolutely DO NOT need to be capitalized — in his tweets?
The issue came to a head on Sunday with this tweet from Trump:
“4.2 million hard working Americans have already received a large Bonus and/or Pay Increase because of our recently Passed Tax Cut & Jobs Bill….and it will only get better! We are far ahead of schedule.”
OK. While I know this isn’t exactly the possibility of a nuclear North Korea or the ongoing Russia meddling investigation, grammar matters. Punctuation matters. And capitalization matters.
In honor of all the copy editors in the world everywhere, let’s break this tweet down!
The first word Trump capitalizes is “Americans.” Boom! Nailed it! “Americans” should be capitalized because it is a proper noun.
Then things start to get dicey. Or should I say Dicey. I’m going bulletpoints here:
“Bonus”: Absolutely no need to capitalize this. None.
“Pay Increase”: What’s better than one unnecessarily capitalized word? How about TWO unnecessarily capitalized words back to back?
“Passed”: It’s a verb in a sentence(ish). You don’t write: “I Walked to school.” OR DO YOU????
“Tax Cut & Jobs Bill”: What at first glance appears to be just weird capitalization actually has some roots in proper capitalization. The tax cut law that Trump is referring to here is known formally as the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” Since that’s the law’s proper name, Trump could get away with the capitalization here. Except he says “Bill” at the end rather than “Act.” Which makes me wonder whether he knows that he is using something very close to the name of the actual law? Or whether he is just saying those words in order — and decided to capitalize them because That’s What He Does?
So, here’s the thing. After reading this — and lots and lots of other tweets just like it — the honest answer is that I have no earthly idea why President Trump capitalizes certain words that clearly don’t need to be capitalized. There appears to very little rhyme or reason to it.
My best guess? He’s doing it to make a point or bring emphasis to certain words. You can’t use bold or italics in Twitter — why not is totally and completely beyond me — so one way to make words POP is to capitalize them either in part or in whole.
Viewed through that lens, Trump’s tweet above makes sense. He capitalizes “Bonus” and “Pay Increase” because, well, people like getting more money. “Passed” is capitalized because it shows that stuff is getting done in Trump’s Washington (I think). “Tax Cuts & Jobs Bill” is capitalized either because a) Trump is basically using the official name of the law or b) he knows “Tax Cuts” and “Jobs” are things people like.
That capitalization-for-emphasis theory holds for a few other recent Trump tweets too.
Like, this one:
“Rep. Lou Barletta, a Great Republican from Pennsylvania who was one of my very earliest supporters, will make a FANTASTIC Senator. He is strong & smart, loves Pennsylvania & loves our Country! Voted for Tax Cuts, unlike Bob Casey, who listened to Tax Hikers Pelosi and Schumer!”
And this one:
“Costs on non-military lines will never come down if we do not elect more Republicans in the 2018 Election, and beyond. This Bill is a BIG VICTORY for our Military, but much waste in order to get Dem votes. Fortunately, DACA not included in this Bill, negotiations to start now!”
Do I understand why “Tax Hikers” is capitalized in that first tweet above? Not really. I also don’t get why “Military” and “Bill” are capitalized in the second one.
Some things, perhaps, are better left unknown. We need mystery in the world.