In the October 2017 issue of The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates has an essay entitled “The First White President.”
Naturally, the article is about President Trump and how the ideology of white supremacy is at the core of his being, is the foundation for his presidency, and is the fire behind his support. Coates also argues that his very existence as commander-in-chief is to negate his black predecessor’s legacy.
You are more than welcome to read the actual piece. I consider it to be overblown. More than that, though, I believe it gives far too much credit to Donald Trump. Is the man in the Oval Office evil personified or is he just dangerously incompetent? I lean heavily towards the latter.
Yes, it is fair to say that white supremacy is behind, or at least part of, some of the support Trump has been receiving. We know this because of Charlottesville. We know this because of people like Richard Spencer. We’ve seen it at rallies. We’ve heard it in news clips. It can’t be dismissed. However true that may be, I don’t believe President Trump himself is some sort of white supremacist on a crusade to “purify” the nation. While I wish he would acknowledge and call out that portion of his fan base more often, it does not make him a propagator of such behavior.
So what is President Trump, exactly? I would label him as the First Millennial President.
Mercifully, we are a long way off from an actual Millennial ascending to the D.C. throne. In looking at this president, however, it is glaringly evident that he embodies a good portion of that generation’s general traits.
These are just a few.
They Still Haven’t Grown Up
It is nearing eight months since Trump was sworn in as the 45th president. Since that time he has shown himself to be thin-skinned and juvenile. Taking criticism is not his strong point. Improving doesn’t seem to be the goal so much as one-upping his (many) opponents. In a way, it almost feels as if he believes himself to be on the largest reality show stage of all time. Energize and entertain the core audience (the MAGA crowd), and your show will not only receive rave reviews but will be renewed for upcoming seasons.
I’m sure much of this childish behavior is a carry over from his days as real estate magnate extraordinaire. That is a much smaller playground than the one called “Leader of the Free World”, but Trump considers himself a dealmaker because of those times. Naturally, he views himself and his job as president as one heavily focused on dealmaking. But of course, leader of the country is so much more than that. I’m not sure he’s aware.
They Have Always Been Told They’re Special
From day one, Donald John Trump has been a special individual. He grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth and began his successful career off of a $1 million loan from his father. He has been a playboy and appeared in Playboy. Women have thrown themselves at him. What about the women who didn’t automatically make the first move (or want to make a move at all)? Trump took charge. He’s a star, after all.
“And when you’re a star they let you do it,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”
Trump could easily fit in with the generation that has always received trophies. Whether they win or not, they’re always told they’re a winner. This mindset is more than evident in his administration. We’re winning so much that we must be tired of winning, right? It doesn’t matter if such a thing is true or not so long as the recipient of the praise feels is to be genuine adulation. And there’s nothing more genuine than members of Trump’s fan club.
They Are Obsessed With Social Media
President Trump cannot pass up a chance to ridicule his enemies or stir up his base through the use of social media. At times when other presidents would lay low and keep things dignified, Trump does the opposite.
#FraudNewsCNN #FNN pic.twitter.com/WYUnHjjUjg
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 2, 2017
His level of transparency is also a rather large issue. By tweeting personal thoughts, next steps, or reactions to media, politicians, and legislation alike, we are given a glimpse into the mind and motives of the commander-in-chief. This is not necessarily a good thing. Besides the fact that immature social media antics are embarrassing, the behavior could actually hurt the country. Who is certain that Trump wouldn’t go too far one day and share too much? No one. Such a Millennial thing to do.
They Are Fickle
Repeal Obamacare? Not likely. Build that wall? Don’t expect it. Make America great again? Ehh, doubtful.
Trump plays the role of fickle Millennial quite well. The recent Trump-Pelosi-Schumer deal is just one example.
Peter King tells me Trump & Schumer chemistry at a WH meeting today was off the charts: “It was almost like a love-in at times.”
— MJ Lee (@mj_lee) September 7, 2017
Another example is the revolving employment door at the White House. Chief architects of his successful campaign, like Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus, didn’t last long at all in the Trump administration. Others have left early, too. Apparently, the president changes his mind routinely. Combine this trait with a short attention span and it’s even worse.
Even former Trump supporters who were some of the loudest during the election cycle are realizing they’ve been duped by Fickle Don.
Possible 2020 slogan: "I broke my promises, betrayed my friends & used my office to help my family, but, hey — at least I'm not Hillary!" https://t.co/pz3LxfVgFI
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) September 6, 2017
Pardon me if I don’t shed a tear for Coulter’s current frustrations.
For a 71 year old, President Donald J. Trump sure acts more like a childish Millennial president than the race-based evil that Coates and others portray. But Trump’s low brow brand of governing is just as dangerous. While we hope the Millennials who struggle with the aforementioned character traits actually improve and mature, Trump is firmly set in his ways. Why would he change now?
While other presidents may have touched on a few, or many, of the characteristics seen in the often self-absorbed Millennial generation, Trump seemingly embodies them all.
Watching such a thing unfold is cringe-worthy at best. At worst? Well, we’re not quite there yet, and that is a scary thought, indeed.