Do You Know an Otherwise Intelligent and Kind Young Person Who Likes Trump? I Do, and I Confronted Him About It

A friend I’ve known since pre-K has publicly announced he supports Donald Trump. This is baffling to me—this friend is intelligent, kind and generous (when I was too broke to buy concert tickets, he bought mine and wouldn’t let me pay him back). Think of a selfless Barney from How I Met Your Mother following Andrew W.K.’s party bible—he just wants everyone to have a good time! He has great taste in friends, excellent conversation skills and a burgeoning DJ side hustle. He is a wonderful, fun, unabashed, all-round interesting person.


But he started joking about voting for Trump a year ago, and I got worried. He went on an annual European “yacht week” and made his crew “Make Yacht Week Great Again” red baseball caps. He was joking about electing for president (not to mention commander in chief) a man who has been openly racist, xenophobic and generally the kind of low-life ignorant bully we’d make fun in high school.

I didn’t get it; my friend seemed to be having fun throwing his support behind someone who is deeply repulsive to me and his multicultural, liberal friends. I thought his praise of Trump was decidedly uncool and not fun, but debating him on it, I felt I was being uncool and not fun. He has told me, “I couldn’t have paid $1 million to have this much fun in the past year.” Has he fooled us all? I wondered. Have we been trolled?

No, this was more benign than trolling.

“My support of Trump doesn’t matter because I’m a resident of New York, a definite blue state,” he’d tell me. “So I can indulge myself with ‘supporting’ whoever I want without any guilt.”

OK, dismissiveness of our hard-won democratic rights aside, at least he didn’t really want this dangerous man elected to the highest position in the country. Phew! But why take that chance, I wondered.

“My Trump support is purely out of entertainment,” he told me. He liked Trump’s personality: “He partied like a rockstar in the ’80s, which means in no way could he really be a social conservative.” OK...

He liked “what [Trump] represents,” he said: “A brash NYC businessman who wants to shake up the system with little regard for what the establishment thinks.”

In this statement, I saw him projecting himself and his ambitions, though my friend sells himself short, as he doesn’t come close to Trump’s irresponsible amorality. But sometimes I worry I see something a little something deeper than this “big joke” my friend claims he’s pulling when he shouts “Build the wall!” at a crowd of scantily clad music festival-goers.

Other friends and I have unsuccessfully tried to intervene. My friend has always been fiscally conservative and socially liberal and believes Trump mostly leans that way too (what?!). I’ve tried to take the high road by pointing out where Trump’s values and proposals differ from my friend’s, using AlterNet’s guide to “powerful non-defensive communication.” I’ve tried using emotional pleas that even if he thinks Trump won’t actually do all the bad stuff he claims he’ll do (my friend thinks he’s just saying it to supposedly win votes), why take that chance? My friend is a racial minority, so I’ve tried getting personal, reminding him of all of the bad things Trump has said about minorities.

Now the only plan of attack I have left is to use what I call the Mean Girls method. Because sinking to Trump’s level of high school bullying and basic rhetoric is all I haven’t tried. Here goes….

The Mean Girls Guide to Persuading a Millennial Not to Vote for Donald Trump

Sad! You want to vote for this loser.

You say he seems like he can party. [I think this is the millennial equivalent of asking if you’d like to have a beer with a candidate.] He doesn’t even drink! What a loser, he doesn’t drink… He’d be so boring. A fun-suck.

Oh, when you say that based on his antics decade ago, he can party, you mean with drugs, not alcohol? Great, so he’s a coke fiend who often likes to stiff people who do him favors. And he tends to get angry and yell at or insult women when he doesn’t get his way or gets called out on his shit. We definitely need that at our next pregame. Veto!

His idea of good Mexican food is a taco bowl. Can you say huevos rancher-NOs? He is so not invited to brunch.

Have you seen him being super creepy with his daughter? What an uncool dad.

Dude bro may have sexually assaulted someone, which is obviously socially unacceptable in any party or college or society. That’s, like, a step away from letting Brock Turner run the country. No thank you!

Also, all our cool gay friends hate him. He doesn’t want them to have their rustic barn wedding with Edison lights. What a jackass.

We all have side hustles funding our amazing FOMO-inspiring lifestyles, and we’re all very good at business in our main hustles as well. This dude thinks it’s cool to get audited because he sucks at taxes, cool to go bankrupt (he calls it leverage, what?), and cool to brag about a bunch of really lame failed businesses like Trump Steaks and all his outsourced products of low quality we wouldn’t be caught dead wearing. (His daughter, on the other hand? That’s bargain fashion we can accept.)

The president is like the big boss man. Who the hell would want to report to such an inept and idiotic boss, who’s tanked several businesses before coming in to your office?

Why chance giving a loser the reins if he delivers on any of those promises he’s making? Being wrong sucks.

You don’t want to publicly admit that you voted for this loser after he literally loses, right? How embarrassing for you that’d be!

The Results

I tried this approach with my friend, word for word. I will say that I learned a little more about what’s behind the belief in the “joke” my friend thinks his vote in New York is worth. I’d like to say it worked, because we did make some progress: he’s actually undecided now (“I’m keeping my friends sweating until November 8,” is his spin on it).

He admitted he doesn’t agree with most of Trump’s “policies” and is “not totally sold” that Trump is able to execute them anyway. He’s not into the lady-hating and socially conservative ideas the GOP might push through a Trump puppet presidency; he revealed that “if Cruz was the nominee, I’d be Clinton all the way.”

We laughed about how neither of us would party with someone Trump’s age regardless of how cool they are (except Bill Clinton), and we came to some agreement, some understanding. I’m still confused, but here’s what light he had to shed after my Mean Girls approach:

“The people like me who support Trump, I believe, are actually using him as a middle finger to the whole guilty liberal, bleeding-heart, political correctness, trigger warnings, micro-aggressions, yadda yadda yadda bullshit that has engulfed society. This is something I do agree with.”

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