When the Washington Post attempted to determine just how the youth of the American Right today feel about President Trump, it resulted in a highly selective—and predictable—focus on anti-Trump voices. After the reporter, Eliza Gray, narrowed down her small sample from 52 to just 13 for extended focus, most of those 13 had nothing but bad things to say about the 45th president of the United States.
The Silent Majority
Perhaps just as telling as those whom Gray puts center-stage are those whom she relegates to the back row of the theater. The remaining 39 individuals she interviewed are relegated to single quotes that may or may not fully encompass the nuance of their views on Trump.
Almost all of the individuals whose quotes wholeheartedly endorse President Trump are not included in the long-form article; this includes such prominent individuals as the state chair of the Kansas Federation of College Republicans, a member of the Ohio House of Representatives, and a former leader of the Berkeley College Republicans. Some of the 52 men and women are not even pictured in the article’s cover image, a collage featuring only 36 of those interviewed.
A number of those who were interviewed but cut from the final article broadly agreed that their views were likely not represented because of their more pro-Trump bent.
One example is Naweed Tahmas, a recent graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, and a former leader of Berkeley’s College Republicans chapter, who says he supported Trump’s candidacy from the very first day. Tahmas has shared his original answers that were given to The Washington Post but not included in the final article.
In these excerpts, Tahmas says Trump has reminded Americans—and especially young people—how “Conservatism is about preserving our special national identity and transmitting this identity to posterity,” rather than treating the United States as “merely an economic jurisdiction.” On Trump’s appeal, Tahmas says that “He represents a strong tradition of speaking for the common man, going back to figures like William Jennings Bryan, Theodore Roosevelt, and Andrew Jackson.”
Another example can be found in Victoria Snitsar, the statewide chairwoman of the Kansas Federation of College Republicans. When American Greatness, reached out to Snitsar, she reaffirmed her support for President Trump, saying that she agreed with “probably 85 percent of his policies,” particularly his handling of immigration. His status as a political outsider, Snitsar added, is “one of the big shifts in American political culture today.”
On her previous interactions with Gray, Snitsar said “from what I’ve heard, everyone had 45-60 minute interviews, and from mine they only used one quote.” She said the interviews were in April, and thus Gray “took a solid three months working on it,” which led Snitsar to believe that it would be “more like a ‘30 Under 30’” article or “a Forbes list,” where she would “write up every single person’s opinions.”
“I wish [she] had been more extensive for sure,” Snitsar added, noting how “a lot of” the pro-Trump opinions “weren’t given equal weight.”
More Positive Than the Media Would Have You Think
Although the media would love nothing more than to paint the Young Right in a false light as anti-Trump, there have been instances where even the largest outlets have been forced to admit that this generation is something more between a mixed bag on Trump to being much more pro-Trump than other generations.
A few months ago, Time Magazine did a similar profile on how Trump influences College Republicans across the country, with interviews of several statewide chairs as well as the national chair. The article showed that while a number of College Republicans at in individual chapters may have opposed Trump before the election—and some may still do so now—the leadership as a whole supports the president.
Statewide chairs in places such as California and Kansas are unapologetically pro-Trump, which suggests their statewide constituencies—the people who elected them—are also generally pro-Trump. College Republicans, located in the heart of left-wing indoctrination centers, are emboldened by the president’s rhetoric to engage in more direct activism against the Left.
College Republican National Committee National Chairman Chandler Thornton admitted that Trump has been a net positive for recruitment efforts, saying “[Trump] is bringing a lot of excitement,” which is “really helping our cause.” And for what it’s worth, a Harvard poll found that nearly two-thirds of the Young Right approve of President Trump’s job performance so far.
The Tides of Change
The Post story’s biggest mistake seems to be an underlying assumption that the Young Right ultimately will come around to “resist” Trump in its own way. This idea, perpetuated by figures such as Ben Shapiro, clings to the hope that a rising generation of Republicans will either firmly adhere to policy stances and belief systems of the past, or flee the Republican Party altogether, rather than accept the drastic changes Trump has initiated. Eliza Gray, in peddling this particular myth guised as a human-interest story, assumes that most in the generation coming of age will instinctively follow increasingly outdated views on such issues as immigration and trade, acting more like the party leaders of yesteryear than seeking to forge a brave new path like Trump is doing.
Thus Gray directly contradicts one of the most well-known patterns in American history: The tendency of the youth to rebel against whatever is the status quo. More than anyone else in recent memory, President Trump represents a bucking of the status quo, both within the Republican Party and in American politics in general.
Trump has permanently dethroned the neoconservatism leanings of establishment Republican leaders such as George W. Bush, in favor of a more nationalist and populist party. In the process, he threw out an old system that, at best, was capable only of winning narrow elections, and was more consistently trending toward losing in total landslides. The new approach that has a much broader appeal because it actually takes into account the opinions and needs of the people pushing for it. Thus it has a much stronger path to electoral success.
It makes far more sense to assume that today’s Young Right would follow President Trump as he spearheads the very kind of fundamental change that would have happened eventually, with or without him. Only a select few, most likely bound by promises of climbing up the ladder or other such material or career gains, will actively stand with the dying old guard that is a proven loser.
It is clear that the majority of the Young Right stand with President Trump and with his shifting of the Overton Window both on key issues and on the standards of political rhetoric. If Trump had not come along and done it first, it is likely that one of them would have done it on their own. Donald Trump does not represent a radical departure from their thinking about the issues and politics of today. He’s just the first figure brave enough to have expressed what so many of us were already thinking.
Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images