According to a new Quinnipiac poll, almost three-quarters of Republicans think President Donald Trump is a good role model for children, while more than two-thirds of Americans on average disagree.
A full 67 percent of U.S. voters said Trump is not a good role model for kids, with only 29 percent insisting that the president is someone children should seek to emulate. Every party, gender, education, age, and racial group — with the exception of Republicans and white voters without a college degree — says the president falls short.
What about Republicans? A whopping 72 percent said Trump is a good role model for children, and only 22 percent disagreed. Even white voters with no college degree, a key element of Trump’s base, weren’t that enthusiastic — 54 percent said Trump is someone kids should emulate, while 41 percent disagreed.
Most American voters (63 percent) also said Trump does not provide the U.S. with moral leadership, while only 33 percent said he does. Republicans disagreed, however, with 80 percent saying the president does provide moral leadership and only 16 percent saying he does not. White voters with no college degree were evenly divided at 47 percent.
More Americans disapprove (58 percent) than approve (36 percent) of the job Trump is doing. Only Republicans (86 percent to 9 percent) and white voters with no college degree (50 percent to 42 percent) approve of Trump’s job.
“For President Donald Trump, it’s a troubling trifecta: Stagnant approval numbers, low grades on most character traits and the reality that if parents are looking for someone their kids should emulate, that person is not residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a statement.
Even so, it seems remarkable that so many Republicans think of Trump as a good role model for children.
For context, Republicans are suggesting their children look up to a man who ended his first marriage by cheating on his wife, who reportedly reneged on business deals with contractors, and who has lied under oath during depositions. Trump displays bravado and pride at remarkable levels — even going so far as saying he never needed to ask God for forgiveness (which for a purported Christian, flies in the face of 1 John 1:8).
Trump is arguably a narcissist — or at least, his public persona is narcissistic — and in the 21st century, that is the last kind of role model kids need. A 2010 study in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science found that narcissism among college students has increased by more than half since the early 1980s. According to some researchers, narcissism has increased as quickly as obesity since the 1980s.
“While full-blown narcissists often report high levels of personal satisfaction, they create havoc and misery around them. There is overwhelming evidence linking narcissism with lower honesty and raised aggression,” Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, explained in a New York Times op-ed.
Narcissism can even get in the way of romantic relationships, Brooks warned. Narcissists “struggle to stay committed to romantic partners, in no small part because they consider themselves superior.”
Trump’s undeniable character flaws do not necessarily make him a bad president. The president has achieved a great deal to be proud of, and his first State of the Union address proved a remarkable picture of America at its best. Trump has cut taxes and regulation, he has been credited with helping ease the tensions between North and South Korea, and he has made strides to ensure veterans receive top-quality health care, among many other things.
Donald Trump may prove himself to be a great president, and he certainly has succeeded in business — but there is more to life than worldly results. Character matters, especially when considering role models for children.
Republicans can acknowledge Trump’s successes without saying he is a good role model for children. Not everything has to be a partisan issue.
Unfortunately, 90 percent of American voters in the Quinnipiac poll said it is important for the president to be a good role model for children. On this score, at least, Trump must receive bad marks.