The “Yale Students for Trump” Facebook group exists. It is not a satire. It has never been a satire. There are Yale students who in all seriousness support Donald Trump, just as there are Americans who in all seriousness support Donald Trump.
Have they gone completely insane? Isn’t Trump a racist bigoted misogynist and a bad businessman to boot? His Twitter account is unparalleled in its absurdity. And yet, his supporters idolize him — he wasn’t wrong when he said his supporters were the most loyal of any candidate’s. In return for their support, Trump gives them hope. He is Saul Goodman plus Santa Claus.
Who are these Trump supporters? Some of them are racist, bigoted misogynists. Some are bad businessmen. But this is certainly not the whole crowd. As much as some people despise Trump, many Americans despise what is going on in Washington and the entire political system even more. Their economic situation and sense of disenfranchisement make them sicker than anything Trump can say.
Some people support Trump because they like his policies, which are less extreme than his brash rhetoric would suggest. On many issues he’s rather moderate. He’s not opposed to single-payer health care in principle. His tax plan is less drastic than some Republican proposals. He wants to streamline the citizenship process. He doesn’t want to cut welfare benefits. And he is by no means a social conservative. Just ask The New York Times — or Sen. Ted Cruz.
Some people support Trump because they truly see him as an inspiration. Obama inspired the masses back in 2008, but he didn’t appeal to everyone — there were people who didn’t buy his “hopey, changey” stuff. Those people have remained uninspired for the past eight years. They may have had RON PAUL REVOLUTION bumper stickers; they might now be feeling the Bern. Or, they might see “hope and change” in Trump.
Then there are those who aren’t for Trump, but are anti-anti-Trump. For these people, it’s less about supporting any specific candidate than about showing a collective middle finger to the establishment.
And just who is the establishment? We are. Yale is the establishment. So it makes sense that we would think that this man is crazy, that his campaign is crazy, that his supporters are crazy. We are the Washington insiders, the liberal elites. We are everything that Trump and his supporters can’t stand.
But really, who are the crazies? Yale students are different from the average American in many ways. Whenever I bring a friend to Yale they experience culture shock. Language and motifs that are commonplace here are virtually nonexistent in most parts of America. If I were to tell anybody back home who didn’t go to a well-known university to “check their privilege,” they would probably give me a look, say something profane and then go back to worrying about their own lives.
It makes sense that Yale is a bit insular — that’s part of the point of college. We get to know each other, learn from each other, live with each other, love each other. So it’s not surprising that Yale’s culture looks a bit different from mainstream America’s. But we shouldn’t forget that mainstream America exists.
If a large voter base supports a candidate we abhor, it might mean they’re all insane. Or it might just mean they inhabit a sphere of reality wildly different from our own. Maybe Trump is crazy. Maybe his supporters are misguided. But those who laugh Trump off are certainly fools.
Natalia Dashan is a senior in Ezra Stiles College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .