David Frum at the Atlantic quotes a Millennial man about why he supports Trump:
“Obviously, Trump appeals most strongly to millennial men. We feel masculine traits are devalued everywhere. It’s more than just, ‘Oh, the dad’s a jerk in commercials.’ Rather like gay people a generation ago, young men today feel that they’re being treated as if they were born wrong. We didn’t live through the Reagan years. We’ve never seen a man’s man in politics before. Trump offers a sense that someone sees them and cares about speaking to them, even if only as far as it takes to con them.”
On reading this, I got hung up on the idea of Trump as a man’s man, which seemed so patently ridiculous I couldn’t let go. Trump is a man’s man? Seriously?
A man’s man is courageous, particularly with regard to personal courage. A man’s man faces bullets bravely in battle, or goes into a burning building to save people. A man’s man climbs mountains. A man’s man goes into a bullring protected only by a cape, a short sword, and personal style.
For a recent example of man’s men, see the cops in Dallas orderly facing down a sniper, protecting a crowd of people who’d gathered together to protest police brutality. (I cannot get over my admiration for those cops.)
What has Trump ever risked? Nothing. He got multiple draft deferments in Vietnam. He’s lived his whole life behind a phalanx and servants and bodyguards, protected by his father’s money. Worst thing that was ever going to happen to him in his life, he was still going to go to bed that night a rich man.
For a historical example of a man’s man, see Theodore Roosevelt. Like Trump, he was born to privilege. Unlike Trump, he risked his own body repeatedly to advance himself, or do what he thought was right.
I was so boggled by the preposterousness of Trump as a man’s man that I didn’t even register the last sentence of Frum’s quote: “Trump offers a sense that someone sees them and cares about speaking to them, even if only as far as it takes to con them.”
And that whole business about masculinity being devalued? As the millennials say: I just can’t even.