Donald Trump, our first millennial president
WASHINGTON -- Everybody -- but especially the olds -- loves to hate on millennials. We're lazy, entitled, emotionally stunted, spendthrift, narcissistic, promiscuous snowflakes.
And yet my fellow Americans: You recently made one of us leader of the free world.
Oh sure, President Trump was not technically born between 1982 and 2000, the rough bookends for the millennial cohort. But if Bill Clinton was once our "first black president," surely Trump can be our first millennial president.
At least if you believe all those stereotypes about my generation.
Millennials are often maligned as believing everybody gets a trophy just for showing up. Yet no public figure demands more participation trophies than Trump, who last week awarded himself a 10 out of 10 for his response to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico.
This despite the fact that as of Monday -- more than a month after Hurricane Maria hit -- four-fifths of the island still has no power. A quarter lacks clean drinking water.
This is hardly the first time Trump has insisted upon, or even invented, accolades to celebrate his own mediocrity. He claimed to have received environmental awards that never existed. His golf courses displayed fake Time magazine covers featuring his face.
He touts graduation honors he never received, perhaps hoping for retroactive grade inflation. He alleges he's coined words and phrases that long predate him, then suggests that his originality warrants public adulation.
Or maybe a second scoop of ice cream.
Like our stereotypical millennial, Trump also has a knack for making every situation somehow about himself.
He did it with hurricane victims in Puerto Rico and Houston, yes. But also with fallen U.S. service members and a pregnant Gold Star widow; NFL players peacefully protesting systemic racism; a Coast Guard graduation; the stock market; international relations; and the Las Vegas shooting.
Even Black History month was, improbably, all about him. It's almost like he's trying to parody a character on "Girls."
Millennial Trump overshares constantly on social media, sometimes even Instagramming his food. He live-tweets his favorite TV show instead of getting real work done. Although no longer a minor, he still requires constant helicopter parenting from the grown-ups around him, as if he's in an adult day care.
And like a typecast whiny millennial, he can't tolerate speech that hurts his feewings. Words that offend him are "unfair," "frankly disgusting," "bad for (the) country." He then tries every weapon available to shut down those words.
Compared with illiberal college students, though, he has a much bigger arsenal.
During the presidential campaign Trump encouraged mob violence against critics, and pledged to "open up our libel laws" against journalists covering him. Since taking office, he has attempted to use government power to turn the entire country into his personal safe space.
Last month, the White House called on ESPN to fire a commentator who criticized the president. Trump personally demanded that the Senate Intelligence Committee investigate media outlets he dislikes and suggested that networks should have their broadcast licenses revoked. Perhaps unsurprisingly, in subsequent days a Morning Consult poll found that half of Republicans agreed with him.
Huh. It's almost as if 19-year-olds aren't actually the country's greatest threat to the First Amendment.
In keeping with his crybully cohort, Trump casts himself as a perpetual victim, the uncontested winner of the oppression Olympics. He claims to be obstructed at every turn by cruel Democrats, establishment elites, media effetes and the Deep State.
Yet somehow amid all these challenges, he still manages to be the most accomplished president in history! No wonder he wants a trophy.
As with millennials, Trump has taken on loads of debt -- though to be fair, that seems to bring much more joy to Trump than to 20- and 30-somethings. Maybe because real millennials expect to pay it back.
Let's face it. Morally lax, prone to revisionist history and obsessed with identity politics, Trump exemplifies all that is annoying and wrong with my generation -- at least according to every Lena-Dunham-despising crank who once walked uphill both ways.
Maybe he's not crashing in his parents' basement (though he is currently living rent-free). And he probably doesn't consume much avocado toast. But where it counts most, he's one of us.
By that I mean his career expectations.
Like any true millennial, Trump refused to pay his dues in an industry where he had no experience. Instead, on the strength of his personal brand alone, he declared himself entitled to the top job. Self-promotion leading to immediate professional promotion? It's the stuff of millennial dreams.
Catherine Rampell's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter, @crampell.
(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group