Is Donald Trump the first Millennial president? A recent op-ed in the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune seems to think so. According to writer Katherine Rampell, Trump is the snowflake to end all snowflakes, unable to take the slightest criticism and expecting constant praise.
Sure, Trump shares some of the traits that are pinned on millennials: he thinks highly of himself and surrounds himself with people who share that opinion. This president sure loves – and frankly, expects – constant praise, like a new puppy learning to sit, or your archetypal millennial. On the other hand, however, Trump embodies some of the best millennial qualities as well.
Rampell says that Trump “can’t tolerate speech that hurts his feewings [sic],” but she’s missing a big chunk of his messaging strategy. Trump uses bad press to his advantage. If the press likes you, you’re establishment, and in this political climate, the establishment is weak, hollow, and corrupt.
Trump would never have been seen as the rogue candidate if the media liked him. He might claim to hate negative press attention, but it’s fuel for his base. Trump’s claims of media victimization are part of a strategy – a strategy that works for him, at least for now.
Trump also shares the perspective on work-life balance that many young adults share, namely that work is a part of life and not something that juts into it. Our generation expects job flexibility in terms of hours, vacation time, and working remotely. Trump loves a weekend getaway, and he’s also started working remotely from Mar-a-Lago far more frequently than boomers and Democrats think is appropriate.
This president also multi-tasks constantly. He tweets about Fox & Friends between meetings. Millennials, like the president, see television and pop culture not as a distraction, but as something that’s woven into every minute of every day. Trump looks unfocused, according to critics, but any honest millennial should realize that we’re all doing ten things at once. Our worlds move fast, and so does Trump’s White House.
Perhaps the best part of millennial culture, also emulated by Trump’s White House, is a willingness to scrap old rules that are no longer practical. Our generation loathes bureaucracy. What said “stability” to our parents says “slow, clunky, opaque” to us. Finally, we have a president who agrees, who directed agencies to discard two regulations for every new one they created.
Trump also knows how to manage his personal brand, just like all millennials do. The Trump brand is so strong and meaningful to people that it propelled him to the White House. We are the first social media generation; Trump was perhaps the only presidential candidate to realize that the value of social media is real or perceived authenticity. There’s nothing more millennial than ranting on social media, and Trump is a pro.
Our age cohort has also earned a reputation for job-hopping, and Trump has been hopping for decades. He started out in real estate, then licensed his name to a variety of businesses, spun that into a reality television “side hustle,” and then dove into politics.
For all of Trump’s (and our) weaknesses, this president embodies some of the best aspects of millennial culture. Unburdened by the formality of our predecessors, we’ll say what we want, when we want, and how we want. This is what makes Trump stand out, and what makes our generation unique.
Angela Morabito (@AngelaLMorabito) writes about politics, media, ethics, and culture. She holds both a Bachelor's and Master's degree from Georgetown University, and has appeared on On the Record with Greta van Susteren as well as Cavuto: Coast to Coast.