I watched Saturday night’s ABC News Republican presidential debate with my 9-year-old son and 77-year-old father.
Throughout the event, as we panned across the screen, observing a mix of ages, ethnicities and home states, I could sense there was one candidate we all felt a connection toward because of his aura. I realized, as the closing statements came and went, that there was actually only one candidate on the stage who reached all of the generations in our living room.
My father is of the Silent Generation. He was too young to serve in World War II and a bit too old to partake in 1960s “free love and drug” escapades. He was a fireman; he served several decades in law enforcement as a state trooper, retiring as colonel. He is an Army veteran, owned several small businesses and was happily married for almost 50 years until Mom passed away from cancer. Most would consider him the salt of the earth. He is a conservative who relates to the hard right.
My dad is a Trump supporter.
My son, Grayson, is almost 10 and a member of Generation Z. He loves Minecraft and YouTube, hoverboards and drones. He’s precocious enough to recognize the inadequacies of our nation, cognizant of news reports on unethical behavior by Hillary Clinton and her private server, or Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) volunteers lying about rival candidate Ben Carson abandoning his candidacy. I’m not sure if Grayson buys into organized religions, but I know he has faith and a growing integrity. He hasn’t decided his political party.
My son is a Trump supporter.
I’m 48 years old and Generation X. I’ve watched and witnessed MTV blossom, AIDS kill, the USSR crumble, space shuttles and probes skyrocket, and technology burgeon at unthinkable momentum. I had the opportunity to join the military, work in the skilled trades industry or climb the business ladder in various job settings, but chose a graduate degree in public administration, then a law degree, then government. Now I’m in public relations. I’m divorced, with kids, and very middle income. I’m a moderate-to-conservative Republican who can relate to the evangelical, Tea Party movement.
I am a Trump supporter.
If a pollster or political scientist were to categorize each of my family members, Trump loyalty may seem counterintuitive based on our backgrounds. My brother, I might add, works as a plumbing and heating technician and is a die-hard Trump fan.
The reality is that all of us feel invigorated and refreshed by Trump’s straight talk. I believe a growing number of Americans feel the same way.
Saturday night’s debate particularly reaffirmed my allegiance to Trump’s candidacy because he spoke to all generations about the concerns we face and thoughts we have: China’s disrespect; Islamic terrorism; illegal aliens crossing our border; the prudence in eminent domain when absolutely necessary; proper support for cops and veterans; a hard line in foreign affairs and military diplomacy to ensure a global stability; the notion that 50 years in business and a recognized skill in negotiation is superior to a gifted debater, lifelong politician or policy wonk. Trump encapsulated what my family, the majority of friends and neighbors, and many more in my community think and feel.
Whether you’re young, old or comfortably riding along the bell curve of middle-age America, my hunch is the canned sound bites, incessant rhetoric and obsequious nature of presidential debates no longer sways opinion. Yet there remain rudimentary fundamentals to our society and communities across the nation, no matter your age, neighborhood or generation.
As Americans, most of us savor the luxury of freedom. We feel the pinch of a diminished economy. We wince at being disrespected by other nations. Stability and security genuinely matter to the majority. We may not be able to define every measure of great leadership, but Americans know it and feel it when it’s guiding our country. Presidents like Jefferson, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Reagan exuded such magic, and that’s where the anomaly of Trump awakens the soul of the nation.
The Republican presidential candidates remaining in this year’s race all have star power, to be sure. I respectfully believe any of the GOP contenders would be superior to Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders as the next executive. The difference is that only one front-runner, because of age, experience and intuition, truly speaks to all of us.
Trump gets it. He legitimately has the tools, professional record and tenacity to make a change for the betterment of the whole. He doesn’t beat around the bush in spreading his message of strength and hope. He speaks to, and for, all of us.
If he wins, perhaps kids born during his presidency could be labeled based on his tenure and uplift, rather than by a letter in the alphabet.
Maybe we could all become part of a new demographic. Rather than technology, wars and entertainment defining our ages, the connection between us can be solidarity in patriotism, respect and responsibility as citizens of an extraordinary nation.
My family supports Donald Trump for president because despite our differences in age, profession and experience, we share his objective for a thriving, vibrant nation. We also recognize he’s likely the only candidate on the debate stage who can get the job done like he has so successfully in the private sector.
Respect and results matter to us. So does a great nation.
We are Generation Trump.
Anderson is a former Alaska state representative and Anchorage School Board member and now owns a public relations firm. He also hosts a morning radio talk show.