May 31, 2016

Millennial Bros

The rise of Donald Trump is tremendously interesting to me. All year I've been thinking about how crazy it is that an outsider comes into the race, breaks all of the rules, says some things that would have completely ruined anybody else, and somehow maintains the front-runner position from practically the start.

And perhaps even more interesting to me is the enormous following he has among people my age. I'm in high school. Throughout the school year, I've been fascinated with my peers that have been die-hard Trump supporters from the beginning. It's interesting to me. The ones that are most vocal about their support for Trump are the ones that are the "bros," the ones that speak excitedly of joining frats next year in college, the ones that would be the classic high school jocks, if that was still a thing. I call them millennial bros. I love that term.

So what's the deal with this? Why is this happening?

Earlier this month, Politico Magazine actually ran an awesome story about this very demographic that is flocking to Trump, even using the term "millennial bro" in the subtitle. I like this article because it does provide some answers as to why these males support Trump so fanatically. This line in particular really stood out to me:

The deeper one ventures into the strange world of [a Trump-centric Internet forum], the more the country’s problems become laced with an array of white-male-themed anxieties—men are apologizing for their maleness, the users say; policies are lifting up the weak and punishing the strong; and culture at large is becoming more feminized.

And really, I think that this is what it is. Bros are feeling emasculated. They look up to Trump, who some of them describe as an "alpha male" type, as some sort of masculine superhero. And it kind of makes sense; Trump is a rugged individualism type of guy, he's got a dominate personality, and he's incredibly assertive: this is the ideal male, I guess? Many think it is. And that's why bros are following their alpha male leader.

So is that the reason Trump is the presumptive GOP nominee? Men feel like they can't be "men" anymore and are looking for the alpha male himself to save them from this atrocity?

Maybe.

Last week I read an excellent piece by Tyler Cowen, who hypothesizes that one reason for the rise of populism around the world is in part fueled by a feeling among men that the world is no longer theirs. He states that "the contemporary world is not very well built for a large chunk of males," citing a feminized culture, and the fact that there is a higher likelihood of American men aged 18-34 living with their parents, rather than with a romantic partner. So a lot of men are feeling less masculine.

Could this be the reason for the rise of populism, in not just the US but also around the world? What about economics? Cowen points out that the American labor market isn't that bad right now. And when it was bad back in the 70s, we didn't see this populist response. Something is different now. It seems as though men are leading this populist movement. Look at Austria: 60% of Austrian men voted for the far-right (yikes), populist candidate in the presidential election last week. That's crazy. Cowen also references the infamous "Bernie Bros," some very vocal male supporters of populist Bernie Sanders.

For me, reading all of this was very enlightening. It's in line with what I have observed around me. Did anyone else notice that the same millennial bros that now worship Trump were the same guys proclaiming themselves as "meninists" like, a year ago? The same ones that deny the existence of a wage gap? The ones that take any opportunity to try to tarnish feminism? These are the millennial bros, and they want to live in a world where they are in charge. They despise political correctness and oppose a more feminist culture, a culture that threatens their hegemony.

It's interesting to think about. But millennial bros are totally a demographic to watch, dude. 

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