Since the moment it looked as though Donald Trump had even a remote chance of winning the Republican presidential nomination, a coalition of hardcore conservatives has been engaged in an effort to block the New York billionaire from becoming the de facto head of the GOP. They have failed utterly, and it’s because they have been arguing against Trump from the wrong perspective.
They’ve taken their positions: He’s not a real conservative. He’s temperamentally unfit for the office. He doesn’t actually know what he’s talking about when it comes to serious policy discussions. True though these complaints may be, they aren’t working. So, for the #NeverTrump crowd, maybe it’s time to pull out the big guns and argue that Donald Trump is constitutionally barred from the presidency because he isn’t old enough.
Bear with me here. According to the Constitution, a person younger than 35 cannot serve as president. And while it’s true that Trump claims to be -- and indeed appears to be -- a Baby Boomer closing in on his 70th birthday, the evidence is accumulating that he is, in fact, a Millennial.
Just as we have come to know a lot about Trump over the past year, we also know a lot about stereotypical Millennials. And there’s a shocking amount of overlap between the behavior of the former reality television star poised to take over the GOP and the stereotypical Millennial. (Before the hate tweets start rolling in: This is not an endorsement of Millennial stereotypes; it’s just a catalogue. So relax and read along. There might even be a participation trophy at the end.)
1. Millennials need constant approval from others in order to feel good about themselves.
In many ways, Donald Trump’s entire presidential campaign has been about Trump standing in front of thousands of people, telling them how great he is and basking in the glow of their noisy approval.
And did he mention the polls? Of course he mentioned the polls, because he always does. His numbers are great! Amazing! Ever since he entered the race last year, Trump’s obsession with public opinion polls has been extraordinary. He has arrived at campaign rallies with no notes for his speeches, but copies of his latest polling numbers.
He is also, for a politician, uniquely sensitive to slights and appears to have blacklisted individual reporters or entire media outlets at times in retaliation for unfavorable coverage.
2. Millennials demand more work-life balance than their older peers.
This one was easy to see on the campaign trail. While other candidates camped out in hotels and rode around for days on end in buses and rental cars, Trump made a point of sleeping in his own bed in Trump Tower almost every night. Likewise, he rarely suffered through appearances at diners and state fairs where he had to pretend to enjoy some horrific deep-fried local delicacy while shaking hands sticky with cotton-candy.
No, Trump campaigned on his own terms -- arriving when he wanted to, leaving when he pleased, all with no regard for what tradition dictated. In other words, just like a Millennial.
It helps, of course, to have your own private airliner to ferry you back to Manhattan after campaign stops, but we’ll get to his sense of entitlement later.
3. Millennials are constantly connected to the online world, particularly through social media.
Trump’s embrace of social media has been a hallmark of his candidacy. From his notorious Twitter feed to his Instagram account populated with pithy Vines in which he barks mini-monologues into a camera seemingly inches from his face, Trump is a true social media candidate.
And he made clear in his over-hyped interview with Fox News host Megyn Kelly this week, if anyone doubted it, that he is the one providing the content on his Twitter feed and making the choices about which of his followers to bless with a coveted Trump retweet.
4. Millennials are all giant narcissists.
Can this one possibly be open for debate? Trump Tower, Trump steaks, Trump water, Trump vodka, Trump cologne, Trump neckties, Trump University. We’re talking about a man who slaps his name on anything that stands still long enough to attach a gilded capital T to it.
He frequently refers to himself glowingly in the third person (both when he’s being himself and when he’s impersonating a public relations man on his own behalf.)
Then there’s his announcement this week that he had submitted his personal financial disclosure form to the Federal Election Commission. It came in the form of a press release that positively screamed with excessive self-regard.
It was the “largest” PFD ever filed. His “incredible” company has accumulated the “greatest” portfolio of real estate assets filled with the “finest” and “most iconic” properties in the world. If that’s not a man singularly focused on how wonderful he thinks he is, then “narcissism” has no meaning.
5. Millennials have a huge sense of entitlement.
It’s hard to deny that Trump feels extraordinarily entitled. A few examples:
- For decades, presidential candidates have routinely released their tax returns to the American people, giving the electorate some insight into their finances, charitable giving, and more. But Trump doesn’t think that applies to him. Over the weekend he told ABC News host George Stephanopoulos that his effective tax rate is “none of your business” and suggested that he might not release his returns at all.
- Before his remaining opponents dropped out the race for the GOP nomination, Trump called for the Republican National Committee to effectively rewrite its rules to accommodate him if he arrived at the national convention this summer with only a plurality of the delegates rather than a majority.
- Trump’s astounding public record of lies and misrepresentations, meticulously documented by Politifact and other fact checking organizations, makes it plain that not only does he believe rules don’t apply to him, but that respect for the truth doesn’t either.
6. Millennials don’t respect the judgment and wisdom of more experienced colleagues.
From the start, Trump has run a campaign that rejected the advice of the old guard in favor of following his gut. More than halfway through the primary season, he was still running a shoestring campaign operation staffed by a group of relatively inexperienced members of his inner circle. Only recently did Trump even bother to bring on an internal campaign pollster -- usually a core member of all presidential campaigns.
Trump’s go-it-alone mentality plainly extends well beyond his campaign. On foreign policy, for example, he’s his own chief adviser, as he has said himself. He also won’t be relying on experts in the intricacies of foreign trade to negotiate trade deals. Trump will be dealing personally with China and with the CEOs of wayward American companies, to make sure the U.S. gets the best deal possible.
In conclusion, there is strong evidence that, appearances to the contrary, Donald Trump is not actually a petulant real estate mogul pushing 70, but a Millennial. And if he’s a Millennial, born after 1982, he can’t actually be old enough to run for president.
Is it hard to believe? Maybe. But this time last year, the suggestion that Trump would now be just steps away from a major party presidential nomination would have been seen as delusional. “Believability” no longer has much relevance in this election.
Now, has anybody seen Trump’s birth certificate?