Trump’s 16 life lessons for Gen Z
President offers a different kind of role model for young Americans
Raising kids is hard. We want our spawn to grow up to be happy, well adjusted, successful adults and good citizens, and move out before they make us grandparents.
We do all we can. But we also hope our children will have the right outside influences and resist the wrong ones. After all, children are our future.
Fortunately, Generation Z — kids from 2 to 19 — enjoys a variety of role models to choose from.
Some are inspired by Malala Yousafzai. At 17 she became the youngest-ever Nobel Laureate for standing up to the Taliban and even taking a bullet to the head for Pakistani girls wanting an education.
Other youth look up to teachers, coaches, mentors, family members or clergy … literary, music and movie stars … sports heroes … Oprah … or even leaders of movements like #MeToo and #MarchForOurLives.
For much of our history, many children looked up to the President of the United States. Today, 90 percent of voters still believe the president should be a role model for kids, according to recent Quinnipiac poll.
Yet 67 percent believe the current president is the wrong role model, the poll found. No matter what their gender, education, age and racial group, most people found Trump’s example bad for kids.
Except for one big outlier: Republicans.
In January, a walloping 72 percent of Republicans saw President Trump as a splendid role model for their kids. While they slid to 61 percent in March after the Stormy Daniels allegations got naughtier, a majority of Republican adults still hope their kids might someday grow up to be Donald Trump.
Now, spank me with a magazine and call me ignorant, but I thought Republicans were the party of decency, morality and family values. If Republicans are now embracing the elastic values they assigned to liberals, Democrats, the Clintons and other European socialists, then good — nobody likes a hypocrite, and welcome to humanity.
But what about the children?
If Republicans think Trump is a good role model for their kids, here are 16 life lessons Gen Z can learn from our president:
1. Experience is stupid. Even for even the biggest, hardest jobs in the world, like serving in the president’s cabinet and heading our government agencies. Complete inexperience is the best qualification, especially if you admit you’re unqualified, you’re bored with too much information from experts, or you hate the organization and mission you’ve been chosen to lead and destroy. Never be misguided by knowledge and expertise you don’t have, people who have forgotten more than you will ever know, or anyone who disagrees with you.
2. Ignorance is brilliance. Everything you don’t understand frees your mind to make snap decisions without doing any homework, listening to experts drone, and having your preternaturally clear, unerring gut sense confused by the complexities of reality. Nobody knows what experts are talking about anyway. What you know can hurt you! (Caution: Winging it doesn’t work for math.)
3. Lying is ok. Ignore or attack people who are sticklers about the truth. When you lie, do it with conviction, straight face and cavalier disregard for the truth. Even if you’re on tape saying something, declare you never said it. Take it from George Costanza: “It’s not a lie — if you believe it.”
4. Suckering people is easy. You can make impossible promises and fail to keep them, yet declare triumphant success and take the hero’s full measure. True believers will lap up whatever you say. If they realize you suckered them, they’ll double down because nobody likes to admit they got suckered.
5. Bragging is for winners. Boasting is just telling the simple, obvious truth about yourself as you know it. And who knows you better than you? Humility is for the weak who might inherit the earth but not $200 million from dad to squander while making bad real estate deals that need Russian mob bailout money that compromises the presidency and the country’s security. Whatever Special Counsel Robert Mueller says, humility never put names in big gold letters on buildings that go bankrupt!
6. You never fail. Failing is for failures. Admitting your failures only pleases failures who want to see you fail because misery loves company.
7. Making a mess is success. The bigger the mess you make, the more proof you’re cleaning up the place.
8. Loyalty is a one-way street. Feel free to betray, embarrass and screw over people who struggled and sacrificed to serve and stick by you. “Back-stabber” is just a word that the back-stabbed use to describe winners because they’re jealous.
9. You never screw up. In the unlikely event you might, never own up. Say whatever never happened. Then blame everyone else for the fallout. Ignore the logic that if it never happened, how can anyone be blamed?
10.Deny the obvious. Then a day later, announce the obvious with a straight face like you never denied it, like yesterday never happened. Use loyal mouthpieces who understand that lying is part of the job, e.g., White House spokespersons. “Gas-lighting” is just a word that the gas-lighted use when they start to lose their minds because of your brilliance.
11.Always deflect, divert and defend. If someone catches you red-handed or dead to rights, attack the catcher. Or change the subject to, for instance, the corrupt, liberal, Hillary loving FBI. If the law is coming after you, then attack the law even if you claim to be a big believer in law and order and Blue Lives Matter.
12.Your facts win. You have a First Amendment right to bear your own facts, being necessary to the security of a free state, and also to dismiss facts you don’t like as alternate, fake, or bullshit from experts who have produced peer-reviewed research findings that don’t support your confirmation bias or motivated reasoning because they’re probably educated elite liberals.
13.Let loose on social media. Throw a tantrum or attack, insult and betray people in ways that spite your upbringing, education and intelligence. Blurt and send before your evolved brain takes over from your animal brain. Don’t bother with spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax, logic and other useless rules of writing and communication that your vastly underpaid and suffering teachers taught you. Speak your truth even if your friends beg you to stop doing that please, for your sake and everyone’s. The President of the United States says what he wants, when he wants and how he wants — why shouldn’t you?
14.Good manners are for losers. Parents, teachers, coaches and other adults are doing all they can to teach you respect, decency, self-control, getting along with others, and being polite. Presidents used to act — at least in public — with decency, dignity and decorum, honoring the office and the supreme privilege to hold it. Now, maybe not so much. If the president can act in public like an adolescent, then why can’t adolescents? If he’s acting sophomoric, then why can’t actual sophomores?
15.Lincoln was right. You can fool some of the people all the time. That’s all you need. If you have only five friends, you just need one who will do anything for you, even stupid things. (See Shawn in “I, Tonya”.) The 20 percent can change the course of history for you and the nation. Even if things don’t turn out optimally for all concerned, like they didn’t for Tonya and Jeff.
16. If you see something, don’t say something. For example, if your fellow youth are being killed, wounded or terrorized in school by a gunman with a military-grade semiautomatic weapon, and you believe America needs reasonable gun laws, stay home and keep it to yourself. Otherwise the president’s friends will attack you as stupid kids who haven’t earned the right to speak out and tell grownups what to do. The president will say nothing while his friends claim you’re being manipulated by liberal Democrats, and also spread malicious lies and Photoshopped memes on Fox News and social media. The president’s friends are cowardly bullies, just like in school except they’re adults attacking kids.
Malala Yousafzai experienced far worse from the Taliban when she was a teen. Gen Z certainly can overcome this president’s role-modeling.
With #MarchForOur Lives, it’s already happening.
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer