Of all the things President Donald Trump has broken in his time in office — norms, records for unpopularity, his supporters’ love of football — few expected that he would break the indomitably sunny spirit of America’s favorite rhyming history teacher, Lin-Manuel Miranda. But Trump’s flat-footed reaction to the crisis in Puerto Rico appears to have finally gotten the best of Miranda, who a few days ago publicly told Trump, “You are going straight to hell.”
Miranda, the Pulitzer-winning composer and original star of Hamilton, is a consistently positive presence on Twitter. He’s prone to signing on every morning and off every night with an encouraging message to his followers about working hard and pursuing their dreams: “Morning, friendos! Make good choices! Listen to your inside voices!” he wrote on September 15, before tweeting his way cheerfully through the kickoff event for Broadway’s Hispanic Heritage Month and finally concluding, “Gnight, friendos! Make good choices! Live your life and raise your voices!”
Miranda, a child of immigrants with family in Puerto Rico, frequently comments on politics, but he generally errs on the side of positivity. A typical Miranda move came earlier this year when he helped launch the Immigrants: We Get the Job Done Coalition with the Hispanic Federation to provide support for immigrants and refugees in the US, and then launched a charity campaign to support it: It was constructive, it harnessed the immense platform of Hamilton for a good cause, and Miranda set it all up without saying anything negative about anyone.
Even when he directly addresses people with whom he disagrees, he generally makes a point of keeping his comments positive. When Vice President Mike Pence went to see Hamilton, Miranda penned a spur-of-the-moment address for cast member Brandon Victor Dixon to deliver to Pence, and it was courteous and optimistic to a fault. “We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us. All of us,” Miranda wrote. “We truly thank you for sharing this show — this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men, women of different colors, creeds, and orientations.”
Probably the most negative thing Miranda has ever publicly said about a political figure — or, like, anyone — was when he called Andrew Jackson “murderous” on Twitter and implied that Jackson didn’t deserve his spot on the $20 bill, which is not exactly a controversial take.
For Miranda, this kind of sunny political optimism may or may not come naturally, but it functions as a safety mechanism. A cheerful, positive Lin-Manuel Miranda is a beloved American icon who can reimagine the Founding Fathers as people of color and still get Dick Cheney to come to his show, while an overtly angry Lin-Manuel Miranda could easily become a scary, aggressive brown man in the public imagination. Miranda’s cheer works like Obama’s chill: It keeps America from seeing him as a threat and turning against him.
So as Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, Miranda at first stuck to his generally approved script: acknowledge the problem, but stay calm. Show people how they can help. Be hopeful. He wrote a plea for aid to Puerto Rico in the Hollywood Reporter. He added donation links and uplifting GIFs to his usual “good morning” tweets.
But as evidence mounted that Hurricane Maria had left Puerto Rico in crisis, with little response or aid from the US government — and as Trump became increasingly defensive about that fact — Miranda’s ability to remain hopeful finally snapped. He began to address Trump directly, at first pleading:
But when Trump began to attack the mayor of San Juan, Miranda couldn’t contain his anger:
She has been working 24/7.— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) September 30, 2017
You have been GOLFING.
You're going straight to hell.
Fastest golf cart you ever took. https://t.co/5hOY23MBvQ
Miranda then quickly returned to his usual script of positivity toward his followers and advice for constructive political action, but his disgust with Trump lingered:
I have been so moved by YOUR generosity since Maria.— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) September 30, 2017
You deserve a leader who shares an OUNCE, a SHRED of the compassion you all have.
F***, I hate even quote tweeting his bile. My timeline feels dirty.— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) September 30, 2017
But these are not ordinary times. https://t.co/pxx7qvHPdf
Miranda’s response to Trump’s lack of action was, by most lights, justified — but according to Miranda, Trump supporters leaped on his brief moment of anger.
On Monday, in the wake of the deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas, Miranda started the day with his traditional good morning message of uplift and cheer.
Good morning.— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) October 2, 2017
Lead with love.
Siempre siempre siempre keep going.
But this time there was an addition that has become common: the now-routine acknowledgment of the latest national tragedy.