Politics & Policy

Donald Trump Is Not Your Father

(Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

A historically literate conservative stands on a soapbox, addressing a crowd.

“As Americans, we are born free men and women. Our rights are endowed by our Creator, and our forefathers fought and died to protect that principle,” he pleads. “We do not need a nanny state! We are not children! The state is not our family! The president is not our father!”

To which all the Donald Trump supporters in the audience reply: “Daddy’s going to win! Daddy’s going to win! Hooray!”

It’s not hard to find Trump supporters who describe their preferred candidate in such directly paternal terms.

Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos has, in fact, taken to calling Trump “daddy.” Jamiel Shaw, Sr., the father of a high school student killed by an illegal immigrant, told CNN that he thinks of Trump “as a father figure” even though the two are similar in age. “He’s the kind of man you would want to be your dad,” Shaw said. “He’s the father figure I always wanted,” supporter Catherine Leafe told the Boston Globe. “I feel like he’s protecting me.

RELATED: Trump’s Counterfeit Masculinity

Even Trump’s longtime employees see him as more than a boss: Michael Cohen, Trump’s Special Counsel and Executive Vice President, said, “To those of us who are close to Mr. Trump, he is more than our boss. He is our patriarch.”

Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams, who predicted Trump’s rise early, sums up the probable general-election matchup nicely:

So when we have Trump versus Clinton, assuming they get to the final match, it’s going to look like mom versus dad. Now, they’re not going to say that, but in our minds we’re going to start seeing them that way. And the thing about dad is that dad is kind of an a-hole, but if you need dad to take care of some trouble, he’s going to be the one you call.

Is there a worse way to choose a president? If you’re hoping Trump will be that strong, protective father figure you always wanted, you’re going to be deeply disappointed. You’re also going to be disappointed by Clinton, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, or Bernie Sanders. This isn’t a matter of their character; it’s a categorizing error. The job of the president is not to be your dad. If you want a mentor — an older, wise voice of experience in your life, go ahead and go find one. The world is full of good people who can perform that role. But the folks busy competing to be the next commander-in-chief aren’t among them.

#share#There’s something a little unnerving about an eagerness to see a famous person you don’t know as a father figure. Maybe it’s not quite as bad as the people who talk to their televisions as if the characters can hear them, or the horror-movie-watcher who yells out, ‘Don’t go in there!’ as if the person on the screen can heed the warning. But it certainly suggests the same blurred line between daily life and the faraway world of famous figures on the screen.

If you feel like you know Hillary Clinton personally, then that “Hillary Clinton: 25 Things You Don’t Know About Me” feature in Us Weekly must actually have worked. You may know that she loves hot sauce, relaxes by reading mystery novels, and considers chocolate her weakness, but you don’t actually know her, even if you think you do. And she certainly doesn’t know you.

RELATED: Godot Will Arrive before the New, ‘Presidential’ Trump

A president can change policies, but the basic, fundamental quality of your life is up to you and the decisions you make. No president can dispel hardship. A tax cut might put a few more dollars in your pocket, but only you can control your spending habits. Fewer regulations are likely to help the economy grow faster, but only you can apply for a job. School choice gives you more options as a parent, but the federal government can’t help your son understand his homework.

#related#There was a time when Republicans laughed at those who saw presidents as messiah figures destined to deliver instant relief from all of life’s problems. Obama supporter Peggy Joseph may be obscure nationally, but many conservatives remember her words from a 2008 rally, which perfectly encapsulated the ludicrous expectations for Obama’s presidency: “I never thought this day would ever happen! I won’t have to worry about putting gas in my car! I won’t have to worry about paying my mortgage! If I help him, he’s going to help me!”

To her credit, by the time she appeared in a 2014 documentary, Joseph had shed any naïve beliefs she once held about a president’s ability to relieve her of her problems. She now compares Obama to the Wizard of Oz — a man behind the curtain, “not who we thought or expected him to be.”

“What I learned was, never trust the wizard. It’s within ourselves,” she said. If Trump supporters somehow get their way, how long will it take them to learn the same lesson?

— Jim Geraghty is the senior political correspondent for National Review.

Most Popular

PC Culture

Hate-Crime Hoaxes Reflect America’s Sickness

On January 29, tabloid news site TMZ broke the shocking story that Jussie Smollett, a gay black entertainer and progressive activist, had been viciously attacked in Chicago. Two racist white men had fractured his rib, poured bleach on him, and tied a noose around his neck. As they were leaving, they shouted ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Strange Paradoxes of Our Age

Modern prophets often say one thing and do another. Worse, they often advocate in the abstract as a way of justifying their doing the opposite in the concrete. The result is that contemporary culture abounds with the inexplicable — mostly because modern progressivism makes all sorts of race, class, and ... Read More
PC Culture

Fake Newspeople

This week, the story of the Jussie Smollett hoax gripped the national media. The story, for those who missed it, went something like this: The Empire actor, who is both black and gay, stated that on a freezing January night in Chicago, in the middle of the polar vortex, he went to a local Subway store to buy a ... Read More

Ilhan Omar’s Big Lie

In a viral exchange at a congressional hearing last week, the new congresswoman from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, who is quickly establishing herself as the most reprehensible member of the House Democratic freshman class despite stiff competition, launched into Elliott Abrams. She accused the former Reagan official ... Read More

White Progressives Are Polarizing America

To understand how far left (and how quickly) the Democratic party has moved, let’s cycle back a very short 20 years. If 1998 Bill Clinton ran in the Democratic primary today, he’d be instantaneously labeled a far-right bigot. His support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, ... Read More

One Last Grift for Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders, the antique Brooklyn socialist who represents Vermont in the Senate, is not quite ready to retire to his lakeside dacha and so once again is running for the presidential nomination of a party to which he does not belong with an agenda about which he cannot be quite entirely ... Read More
PC Culture

Merciless Sympathy

Jussie Smollett’s phony hate-crime story could have been taken apart in 24 hours, except for one thing: Nobody wanted to be the first to call bullsh**. Who will bell the cat? Not the police, and I don’t blame them. Smollett is a vocal critic of President Donald Trump who checks two protected-category ... Read More