Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Boys Will Be Bros

The latest teenage heartthrob for boys.

Jack Rowe, an 18-year-old high school student from St. Paul, Minnesota, sat in the front row of a Donald Trump rally in Eau Claire, Wisconsin last weekend, sandwiched between two friends.

He had caucused for Trump in Minnesota for the very first time a few weeks earlier. Freckled and grinning, he sported a red “Make America Great Again” hat and a gray Trump t-shirt.

Rowe had some thoughts on Trump’s rhetorical treatment of women, which had been dominating the news lately thanks to the Republican front-runner’s comments about punishing women who have abortions. Mainly, Rowe said, it’s a non-issue.

“Misogyny was an issue about maybe 60, 80 years ago,” said Rowe. “That’s not an issue today. There are a lot bigger fish to fry…You know, ISIS is chopping off heads. We’ve got 19 trillion dollars in debt.”

Young men like Rowe are a common sight at Trump rallies around the country: Mostly white, they travel in packs and frequently wear Trump’s signature “Make America Great Again” hats, pumping their fists and cheering loudly as protesters get hauled out by security. They document their political activity like any good millennial would, recording their outings on Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter.

They are dudes, jocks, preps and just-your-average college and high school kids. But on the campaign trail, they’ve come to be known simply as “Trump Bros.”

“Bro,” once just shorthand for “brother,” is a term that today describes a white youth subculture of “fratty masculinity,” as National Public Radio once politely put it. Depending on your perspective, “Bro” can either be meant as high praise (usually from a fellow khaki-wearing bro), or a derisive insult.

In dozens of interviews conducted around the country in recent months, one thing is clear: Many of them absolutely love the GOP frontrunner.

These are the kids in training for sitting at the end of the bar complaining about how a black guy got the job he shoulda had ’cause of (air quotes) affirmative action, not because he showed up for the interview with a buzz and a t-shirt that said “I’M WITH STUPID.”  These are the guys who beat up a kid they thought was gay in high school but secretly checked him out in the locker room, and these are the guys who will die at 50 when their livers wither to a cinder from ten thousand shots and beers on the way to making America great again.  They expect to have the world handed to them because they are white men whom God has decreed should, just because they’re white men, be in charge.

They are, as their idol would say, losers.