Politics | October 25th, 2020

‘Keep America Great’: Gen Z Voters Explain Their Support for Trump

By: Ly'kimbria Jackson
‘Keep America Great’: Gen Z Voters Explain Their Support for Trump

From college campuses to high school classrooms, students wearing red baseball caps emblazoned with, “Make America Great Again,” in white letters feel as if they are the minority. Their support for President Donald Trump and his administration, they believe, separates them from other Gen Z voters. 

Accounting for 27% of voters under the age of 24 who plan to reelect Trump, this notion is not false, however, their motives for supporting him is what raises the most questions. Over four years, Trump has earned a recurring role in media headlines for his political endeavors and social media tirades. As a result, some Americans have begun to query about his competence as the current president while others view Trump’s leadership as inspiring and here’s why:

Trump is not politically correct.

“What is most inspiring to me is his fearlessness. He lacks political correctness and I admire that because he doesn’t care what anyone has to say,” Abby Wincott said. “He doesn’t care about the backlash that he’s going to get from biased people that don’t really care about policy issues or care about the American people as much as their paychecks.”

Wincott, a freshman political science and criminology student attending Pennsylvania State University, considers herself as patriotic — similar to Plymouth Whitemarsh High school senior Bobby McGuire. McGuire also admires the Trump administration’s efforts to restore American ideals despite the censure he receives.

“He’s getting criticized 24/7. If he breathes wrong he gets damned,” McGuire said. “If he does something stupid, he gets dammed. If he does something good, he’s damned.”  

Fulfilling the duties of the acting commander in chief is an exigent task and much like his predecessors, President Trump has been subject to the scrutiny of the American people. The Trump administration following his inauguration was expected to resume the duties of the prior administration while laboring to implement their political agendas. Yet, his supporters believe his accomplishments are outshined by his faults. 

All lives matter to the Trump administration.

Amid the current social climate, Americans have witnessed social injustices and police brutality transpire at an alarming rate within the Black community. Numerous unarmed Black men and women, such as George FloydBreonna Taylor  and Jonathan Price, have died at the hands of law enforcement officers without proper cause. In cases such as Floyd’s and Taylor’s, the logistics surrounding their deaths caused Black Lives Matter protests to erupt in many U.S. cities.  

For Gen Z Trump supporters, such as Wincott and McGuire, the Trump administration took the appropriate stance when addressing these issues.

“President Trump is completely against any kind of unethical relations with police officers and their communities. He has passed the police reform bill and stands in support of our officers regardless of their race,” said Wincott. 

Weeks after the death of George Floyd, the Trump administration instituted a police reform bill underlining objectives set to eradicate police brutality. The bill proposed a national police misconduct database, new protocols for excessive force, de-escalation tactics and a surge in the use of social workers and mental health professionals. 

However, even with the executive order in place, peaceful protests turned riots echoed across America as police brutality persisted. In response to these demonstrations, President Trump made several incendiary comments labeling protestors as “thugs” and threatened to use the force of the U.S. military to reinstate order. His reproach for demonstrators did not fare well when citizens questioned his temperament and why the bill failed to gain traction among law enforcement officers. 

Police officers, thus, have been placed under direct scrutiny and investigation for reform as a result. 

“I hate that everyone’s disrespecting the police. 99.9999% of the cops are good and they are loving and caring and they have families. They don’t go out to shoot people. They don’t do that. They have families so if they’re in a stance where they feel endangered and we can see this in multiple cases that they feel endangered. They have that right to protect themselves, no matter what because they’re humans too,” said McGuire.

Black people constitute 13% of the American population and statistics show that 28% of the people killed at the hands of the police are Black. Trends of police violence have led many to develop negative connotations about the police and their ability to protect and serve. While there may not be studies affirming the moral character of police officers, many believe they are public servants obligated to preserve the wellbeing of all citizens.

“A big problem in these African American communities is that the parents teach their kids to be scared of the cops, that the cops are enemies and to not like the cops. That’s pretty much what they’re teaching these young kids. So when they grow up they’re always going to fear the cops. So, to prevent that, the parents have to step up and depict the cops as heroes. They have to depict that they won’t hurt them,” added McGuire.

The police force was first established as slave patrolmen in southern states and night watchmen in northern regions. Between 1790 and 1860, 80% or more of the Black population was enslaved and interacted with the police from the standpoint of second class citizens. Slave patrollers worked to prevent slave revolts and returned runaways during the antebellum period. 

After slavery was abolished, the duties of police officers were parallel to slave patrols as officers were tasked with enforcing Jim Crow laws. Historically, many Black people have never had reason to depict law enforcement officers as heroes because of the negligence and harassment subjected to them by the police. Even decades after the abolishment of slavery, generations continue to share a warranted fear for officers who uphold these practices.

“Build that wall. Build that wall, just like my house has a fence around it.”

“When it comes to immigration, my position is the position of many: America is a nation of laws and a nation of borders. A nation without either is not a nation at all,” C.J. Pearson, a University of Alabama freshman, tweeted. Pearson is a burgeoning conservative activist who has risen to notoriety for his self-proclaimed voice as “The Left’s Youngest Nightmare.”

Spawning from the beginning of Trump’s presidency, his administration has clarified his stance on immigration laws. In multiple instances, Trump has discussed his plan to secure America’s borders with an 80-mile wall separating Mexico and the United States. 

“Build that wall. Build that wall, just like my house has a fence around it. There is only one way in and that’s the right way,” said McGuire.

Trump’s claims to strengthen borders with a wall struck a chord for many immigrants residing in America and reassured other citizens like McGuire looking to restore U.S. jurisdiction. 

“Trump doesn’t target the entire Mexican race. He targets drug dealers, gangs, sex traffickers and any other criminals. People are fleeing illegally and taking so many of our American tax dollars. Our American sovereignty must be maintained, you (must) come in the right way and contribute to our American society.”

McGuire, a Mexican-American, and Pearson, an African-American, stand among the group of minorities who believe deporting illegal immigrants and constructing a wall along the southern border will grant the U.S. protection from criminals and economic hardship. Yet, the percentage of undocumented immigrants incarcerated for criminal offenses, aside from illegal entry, is relatively low

Statistics have shown that the U.S. crime rate does not increase excessively when illegal immigrants enter the country nor does it decrease substantially when undocumented individuals are deported. Many immigrants come to America seeking better economic opportunities and mostly work in extreme conditions and complete physically demanding jobs for small wages. The jobs and tax dollars that Pearson and McGuire believe immigrants deprive Americans of does not have a large effect on the wages American laborers receive.

With only days left in the presidential race, there is so much at stake for voters on both sides of the political spectrum. 

The reasons behind young conservative support for President Trump standouts to many because Gen Z constituents are typically viewed as liberals supporting progressive political parties. That, however, is not the case for Wincott, McGuire and Pearson who value the conservation of American ideals. Their support for Trump, they believe, is not based solely on their loyalty to the Republican party or disdain for far-left politics but also reflects his political efforts as the current president.