Only children have a reputation for being perfectionists and high-achievers, constantly seeking attention and approval from their parents and from others.
But children with siblings, too, express unique personality types based on their birth order.
While a number of factors play a role in a child's development -- including genetics, environment and parenting -- birth order can also influence their defining traits and behaviors.
Since the 1970s, thousands of scientific studies on birth order have been conducted, but psychologists often disagree about how much of a role birth order actually plays in development. However, some common aspects of the personalities of oldest, middle and youngest children that are consistent across the literature.
Why do these differences occur? Many psychologists have suggested that siblings' personalities differ insofar as they adopt different strategies to win their parents' attention and favor. By this theory, the oldest child may be more likely to identify with authority and support the status quo, while younger children are more likely to seek attention by rebelling.
"Kids learn their role in their family," Dr. Kevin Leman, a psychologist and the author of The Birth Order Book and The First-Born Advantage, told The Huffington Post. "Firstborns are held to a higher standard. As kids come into the birth order, parents loosen up."
Here's more on what science says about the personalities of youngest, middle and oldest children:
Firstborn children tend to be achievement-oriented, often performing well in school and thriving in leadership positions, according to Leman.
"Firstborns are the first of everything ... and they are the standard-bearers," Leman said, adding that most U.S. presidents have been firstborn or only children.
Indeed, there is a good deal of research to support this personality profile, including a 2012 paper reviewing more than 500 studies from the past 20 years. In the paper, psychologists from the University of Georgia showed that the firstborn child (or the one who has taken on the psychological role of the "eldest") is the most likely to hold leadership roles and to strive for achievement. A 2009 study published in the journal Child Development also found that firstborn children are more likely to conform -- which can manifest as seeking to please their parents and others by doing well in school or in work.
"Firstborns tend to be responsible, competitive and conventional, whereas laterborns have to 'distinguish' themselves and create a specific niche by being playful, cooperative, and especially, rebellious," Belgian psychologists Vassilis Saroglou and Laure Fiasse wrote in a 2003 paper published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.
The personalities of youngest children -- including the newest member of the British royal family, Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte of Cambridge -- are distinctly different from the personalities of their older siblings.
Studies have shown that the baby of the family tends to be more creative, rebellious and attention-seeking. This makes sense, considering the way parenting can often change from the oldest to the youngest child. Mom and dad are often more hands-off and lenient once they've become more comfortable in their role as parents, and have gone through the process of raising a child at least once.
"Youngest children are manipulative, social, outgoing, great at sales. ... They got away with murder as kids and know how to get around people," Leman said.
While the baby may be prone to attention-seeking behaviors, one study noted that there does not appear to be a link between youngest children and delinquency or problem behavior, as is sometimes suggested.
The oldest child gets Mom and Dad's undivided attention, while the baby of the family can often get away with doing whatever they want. So where does that leave the middle child?
The middle child tends to be the family peace-keeper, Leman noted, and often possesses traits like agreeableness and loyalty.
A 2010 review of birth order literature also found that it's common for middle children to be sociable, faithful in their relationships and good at relating to both older and younger people.
Because middle children are often stuck in the middle, quite literally, they tend to be great negotiators and compromisers, Leman said.
"Middle children are tougher to pin down, but they tend to be very loyal and to highly value their friendships," he added.
What Parents Can Do
So how can parents help oldest, middle and youngest children thrive? A parent's most important job is to support a child's unique journey, according to child development expert Dr. Gail Gross.
"Children need to be allowed to find their destiny, whatever their role in the family may be," Gross advises parents in a HuffPost blog.
Leman advised honoring each child's unique differences and respecting their diverse strengths and challenges.
"Treat your kids differently," he said.
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A Democratic Opposition
By George Packer
Four decades ago, Watergate revealed the potential of the modern Presidency for abuse of power on a vast scale. It also showed that a strong democracy can overcome even the worst illness ravaging its body. When Richard Nixon used the instruments of government to destroy political opponents, hide financial misdoings, and deceive the public about the Vietnam War, he very nearly got away with it. What stopped his crime spree was democratic institutions: the press, which pursued the story from the original break-in all the way to the Oval Office; the courts, which exposed the extent of criminality and later ruled impartially against Nixon’s claims of executive privilege; and Congress, which held revelatory hearings, and whose House Judiciary Committee voted on a bipartisan basis to impeach the President. In crucial agencies of Nixon’s own Administration, including the F.B.I. (whose deputy director, Mark Felt, turned out to be Deep Throat, the Washington Post’s key source), officials fought the infection from inside. None of these institutions could have functioned without the vitalizing power of public opinion. Within months of reëlecting Nixon by the largest margin in history, Americans began to gather around the consensus that their President was a crook who had to go.
President Donald Trump should be given every chance to break his campaign promise to govern as an autocrat. But, until now, no one had ever won the office by pledging to ignore the rule of law and to jail his opponent. Trump has the temperament of a leader who doesn’t distinguish between his private desires and demons and the public interest. If he’s true to his word, he’ll ignore the Constitution, by imposing a religious test on immigrants and citizens alike. He’ll go after his critics in the press, with or without the benefit of libel law. He’ll force those below him in the chain of command to violate the code of military justice, by torturing terrorist suspects and killing their next of kin. He’ll turn federal prosecutors, agents, even judges if he can, into personal tools of grievance and revenge.
All the pieces are in place for the abuse of power, and it could happen quickly. There will be precious few checks on President Trump. His party, unlike Nixon’s, will control the legislative as well as the executive branch, along with two-thirds of governorships and statehouses. Trump’s advisers, such as Newt Gingrich, are already vowing to go after the federal employees’ union, and breaking it would give the President sweeping power to bend the bureaucracy to his will and whim. The Supreme Court will soon have a conservative majority. Although some federal courts will block flagrant violations of constitutional rights, Congress could try to impeach the most independent-minded judges, and Trump could replace them with loyalists.
But, beyond these partisan advantages, something deeper is working in Trump’s favor, something that he shrewdly read and exploited during the campaign. The democratic institutions that held Nixon to account have lost their strength since the nineteen-seventies—eroded from within by poor leaders and loss of nerve, undermined from without by popular distrust. Bipartisan congressional action on behalf of the public good sounds as quaint as antenna TV. The press is reviled, financially desperate, and undergoing a crisis of faith about the very efficacy of gathering facts. And public opinion? Strictly speaking, it no longer exists. “All right we are two nations,” John Dos Passos wrote, in his “U.S.A.” trilogy.
Among the institutions in decline are the political parties. This, too, was both intuited and accelerated by Trump. In succession, he crushed two party establishments and ended two dynasties. The Democratic Party claims half the country, but it’s hollowed out at the core. Hillary Clinton became the sixth Democratic Presidential candidate in the past seven elections to win the popular vote; yet during Barack Obama’s Presidency the Party lost both houses of Congress, fourteen governorships, and thirty state legislatures, comprising more than nine hundred seats. The Party’s leaders are all past the official retirement age, other than Obama, who has governed as the charismatic and enlightened head of an atrophying body. Did Democrats even notice? More than Republicans, they tend to turn out only when they’re inspired. The Party has allowed personality and demography to take the place of political organizing.
The immediate obstacle in Trump’s way will be New York’s Charles Schumer and his minority caucus of forty-eight senators. During Obama’s Presidency, Republican senators exploited ancient rules in order to put up massive resistance. Filibusters and holds became routine ways of taking budgets hostage and blocking appointments. Democratic senators can slow, though not stop, pieces of the Republican agenda if they find the nerve to behave like their nihilistic opponents, further damaging the institution for short-term gain. It would be ugly, but the alternative seems like a sucker’s game.
In the long run, the Democratic Party faces two choices. It can continue to collapse until it’s transformed into something new, like the nineteenth-century Whigs, forerunners of the Republican Party. Or it can rebuild itself from the ground up. Not every four years but continuously; not with celebrity endorsements but on school boards and town councils; not by creating more virtual echo chambers but by learning again how to talk and listen to other Americans, especially those who elected Trump because they felt ignored and left behind. President Trump is almost certain to betray them. The country will need an opposition capable of pointing that out.
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Health of the Nation
By Atul Gawande
How dependent are our fundamental values—values such as decency, reason, and compassion—on the fellow we’ve elected President? Maybe less than we imagine. To be sure, the country voted for a leader who lives by the opposite code—it will be a long and dark winter—but the signs are that voters were not rejecting these values. They were rejecting élites, out of fear and fury that, when it came to them, these values had been abandoned.
Nearly seventy per cent of working-age Americans lack a bachelor’s degree. Many of them saw an establishment of politicians, professors, and corporations that has failed to offer, or even to seem very interested in, a vision of the modern world that provides them with a meaningful place of respect and worth.
I grew up in Ohio, in a small town in the poorest county in the state, and talked after the election to Jim Young, a longtime family friend there. He’d spent thirty-five years at a local animal-feed manufacturer, working his way up from a feed bagger to a truck driver and, in his fifties, a manager, making thirteen dollars an hour. Along the way, the company was sold to ever-larger corporations, until an executive told him that the company was letting the older staff go (along with their health-care and pension costs). Jim found odd jobs to keep him going until he could claim his Social Security benefits.
In the end, Jim said, he didn’t vote. Last year, his son, who was born with spina bifida, died, at the age of thirty-three, after his case was mismanaged in the local emergency room. Jim has a daughter in her forties, who works at Walmart and still lives at home, and another daughter trying to raise three kids on her husband’s income as a maintenance man at a local foundry and her work at an insurance company. Jim lives in a world that doesn’t seem to care whether he and his family make it or not. And he couldn’t see what Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, or any other politician had to offer that would change that.
But he still believes in our American ideals, and his worry, like mine, is that those now in national power will further betray them. Repealing Obamacare, which has provided coverage to twenty-two million people, including Jim’s family members; cutting safety-net programs; downgrading hard-won advances in civil liberties and civil rights—these things will make the lives of those left out only meaner and harder.
To a large extent, though, institutions closer to home are what secure and sustain our values. This is the time to strengthen those institutions, to better include the seventy per cent who have been forsaken. Our institutions of fair-minded journalism, of science and scholarship, and of the arts matter more now than ever. In municipalities and state governments, people are eager to work on the hard problems—whether it’s making sure that people don’t lose their home if they get sick, or that wages are lifted, or that the reality of climate change is addressed. Years before Obamacare, Massachusetts passed a health-reform law that covers ninety-seven per cent of its residents, and leaders of both parties have affirmed that they will work to maintain those policies regardless of what a Trump Administration does. Other states will follow this kind of example.
Then, there are the institutions even closer to our daily lives. Our hospitals and schools didn’t suddenly have Reaganite values in the eighties, or Clintonian ones in the nineties. They have evolved their own ethics, in keeping with American ideals. That’s why we physicians have resisted suggestions that we refuse to treat undocumented immigrants who come into the E.R., say, or that we not talk to parents about the safety of guns in the home. The helping professions will stand by their norms. The same goes for the typical workplace. Lord knows, there are disastrous, exploitative employers, but Trump, with his behavior toward women and others, would be an H.R. nightmare; in most offices, he wouldn’t last a month as an employee. For many Americans, the workplace has helped narrow the gap between our professed values and our everyday actions. “Stronger together” could probably have been the slogan of your last work retreat. It’s how we succeed.
As the new Administration turns to governing, the mismatch between its proffered solutions and our aspirations and ideals must be made apparent. Take health care. Eliminating Obamacare isn’t going to stop the unnerving rise in families’ health-care costs; it will worsen it. There are only two ways to assure people that if they get cancer or diabetes (or pregnant) they can afford the care they need: a single-payer system or a heavily regulated private one, with the kind of mandates, exchanges, and subsidies that Obama signed into law. The governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin, was elected last year on a promise to dismantle Obamacare—only to stall when he found out that doing so would harm many of those who elected him. Republicans have talked of creating high-risk insurance pools and loosening state regulations, but neither tactic would do much to help the people who have been left out, like Jim Young’s family. If the G.O.P. sticks to its “repeal and replace” pledge, it will probably end Obama’s exchanges and subsidies, and embrace large Medicaid grants to the states—laying the groundwork, ironically, for single-payer government coverage.
Yes, those with bad or erratic judgment will make bad or erratic choices. But it’s through the smaller-scale institutions of our daily lives that we can most effectively check the consequences of such choices. The test is whether the gap between what we preach and what we practice shrinks or expands for the nation as a whole. Our job will be to hold those in power to account for that result, including the future of the seventy per cent—the left out and the left behind. Decency, reason, and compassion require no less.
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Bryant Park: A Memoir
By Hilary Mantel
The day before Election Day, the weather in New York was more like May than November. In hot sun, gloved ice-skaters, obedient to the calendar, meandered across the rink in Bryant Park, which showed itself ready for winter with displays of snowflakes and stars. It was a great afternoon to be an alien, ticket in your pocket, checked in already at J.F.K., and leaving the country before it could elect Donald Trump. Breakfast television had begged viewers to call the number onscreen to vote on whether Mrs. Clinton should be prosecuted as a criminal. Press 1 for yes, 2 for no. “Should Hillary get special treatment?” the voice-over asked. There was no option for jailing Trump.
During his campaign, Trump threatened unspecified punishments for women who tried to abort a child. We watched him, in the second debate, prowling behind his opponent, back and forth with lowered head, belligerent and looming, while she moved within her legitimate space, returning to her lectern after each response: tightly smiling, trying to be reasonable, trying to be impervious. It was an indecent mimicry of what has happened at some point to almost every woman. She becomes aware of something brutal hovering, on the periphery of her vision: if she is alone in the street, what should she do? I willed Mrs. Clinton to turn and give a name to what we could all see. I willed Mrs. Clinton to raise an arm like a goddess, and point to the place her rival came from, and send him back there, into his own space, like a whimpering dog.
Not everything, of course, is apparent to the eye. The psyche has its hidden life and so do the streets. Midtown, the subway gratings puff out their hot breath, testament to a busy subterranean life; but you could not guess that millions of books are housed under Bryant Park, and that beneath the ground runs a system of train tracks, like toys for a studious giant. Activated by a scholar’s desire or whim, the volumes career on rails, in red wagons, toward the readers of the New York Public Library. Ignorant pedestrians jink and swerve, while below them the earth stirs. We are oblivious of information until we are ready for it. One day, we feel a resonance, from the soles of the feet to the cranium. Without mediation, without apology, we read ourselves, and know what we know.
There are some women who, the moment they have conceived a child, are aware of it—just as you sense if you’re being watched or followed. I have never had a child, but once in my life, a long time back and for a single day, I thought I was pregnant. I was twenty-three years old, three years a wife. I had no plans at that stage for a child. But my predictable cycle had gone askew, and one morning I felt as if some activity had commenced behind my ribs. It wasn’t breathing, or digestion, or the thudding of my heart.
I lived in the North of England then. My husband was a teacher, and it must have been half-term holiday, because we went into the city to meet a friend and spend the afternoon with his parents, who were visiting from rural Cornwall. They wondered why so many grand buildings were painted black, why even gravestones appeared to be streaked and smeared. That, we explained, was not paint—it was two centuries of working grime. They were startled, mortified by their ignorance. To them, heavy industry was something archaic, which you saw in a book. They didn’t know that its residue fluffed the lungs like Satan’s pillows, that it thickened walls and souped the air.
At lunchtime with my party of friends, I could not eat, or stay still, or find any way to be comfortable. I felt weak and light-headed. Heat swept over me, then chill. On our way home in early evening, we called on my mother-in-law, who was a nurse. I wonder if you might be expecting? she said. In the kitchen, my husband put his arms around me. We didn’t officially want a baby, but I saw that, at least for this moment, we did. None of us knew the next step. Were the drugstore tests reliable? Would it be better to go straight to the doctor? My mother-in-law said, I don’t know what the right way is, but I’ll find out first thing, as soon as I get into work.
But by the time I left her house the space of possibility that had opened inside me was filling with pain. Soon I was shaking. As the evening wore on, the pain expanded to fill every cavity in my body. Even my bones felt hollow, as if something were growing inside and pushing them out. In the small hours, I began to bleed. The episode was over. No test would ever be needed. I never had that particular set of feelings again, that distinctive physiological derangement. But women are full of potential. Thwart them one way and they will find another. What never left me was the feeling that something was knocking inside my chest, asking to be let out. A sensory error, I presumed. Only recently did I have the thought that it might have been a real pregnancy—an unviable, ectopic conception. Such a mistake of nature can result in a surgical emergency, even sudden death. It is possible I had a lucky escape, from a peril that was barely there.
A few days after this thought occurred, I had, not a dream, but a shadowy waking vision. It seemed to me that a bubble floated some three feet from my body, attached to me by an almost invisible thread. In the bubble was a tiny child, which asked my forgiveness. In its semi-life, lived for a single day, it had caused nothing, known nothing, created nothing other than pain; so it wanted me to pardon it, before it could drift away.
I do not cede the child any reality. Nor do I think it was an illusion. I recognize it as some species of truth, light as metaphor. It had not occurred to me that there was anything to forgive—that anything was ensouled that could grieve, that could endure through the years. But there was a hairline connection to that day in my early life, and at last I could cut the tie and it could sail free.
It was imagination, no doubt. Imagination is not to be scorned. Fragile, fallible, it goes on working in the world. Since I cut that thread, I have been more sure than ever that it is wrong to come between a woman and a child that may or may not elect to be born. Campaigners talk about “a woman’s right to choose,” as if she were picking a sweet from a box or a plum from a tree. It’s not that sort of choice. It’s often made for us. Something unrealized gives the slip to existence, before time can take a grip on it. Something we hoped for everts itself, turns back into the body, or disperses into the air. But, whatever happens, it happens in a private space. Let the woman choose, if the choice is hers. The state should not stalk her. The priest should seal his lips. The law should not interfere.
That whole week leading up to the election, it was warm enough to bask on garden chairs. The market at Grand Central displayed American plenitude: transparent caskets of juicy berries, plump with a dusky purple bloom; pyramids of sushi; sheets of aged steak, lolling in its blood. By the flitting light of the concourse, I checked out the destination boards of another life I could have lived. Twenty years ago, my husband worked for I.B.M. It was projected that we would move to its offices in White Plains. For a week or two, we imagined it, and then the plan disintegrated. In that life, I would have taken the train and arrived amid Grand Central’s sedate splendors, and walked about in my Manhattan shoes. Did the book stacks exist then? Surely I would have had foreknowledge, and felt the books stirring beneath Forty-second Street, down where the worms turn.
As the polls were closing, I was somewhere over the Atlantic. As we flew into the light, one of the air crew came with coffee and a bulletin, with a fallen face and news that shocked the rows around. They don’t think, she said, that Hillary can catch him now. I took off my watch to adjust it, unsure how many centuries to set it back. What would Donald Trump offer now? Salem witch trials? Public hangings? The lass who had prepared us for the news was gathering the blankets from the night’s vigil. Crinkling her brow, she said, “What I don’t comprehend is, who voted for him?”
No one we know—that’s the trouble. For decades, the nice and the good have been talking to each other, chitchat in every forum going, ignoring what stews beneath: envy, anger, lust. On both sides of the ocean, the bien-pensants put their fingers in their ears and smiled and bowed at one another, like nodding dogs or painted puppets. They thought we had outgrown the deadly sins. They thought we were rational sophisticates who could defer gratification. They thought they had a majority, and they screened out the roaring from the cages outside their gates, or, if they heard it, they thought they could silence it with, as it may be, a little quantitative easing, a package of special measures. Primal dreads have gone unacknowledged. It is not only the crude blustering of the Trump campaign that has poisoned public discourse but the liberals’ indulgence of the marginal and the whimsical, the habit of letting lies pass, of ignoring the living truth in favor of grovelling and meaningless apologies to the dead. So much has become unsayable, as if by not speaking of our grosser aspects we abolish them. It is a failure of the imagination. In this election as in any other, no candidate was shining white; politics is not a pursuit for angels. Yet it doesn’t seem much to ask—a world where a woman can live without jumping at shadows, without the crawling apprehension of something nasty constellating over her shoulder. Mr. Trump has promised a world where white men and rich men run the world their way, greed fuelled by undaunted ignorance. He must make good on his promises, for his supporters will soon be hungry. He, the ambulant id, must nurse his own offspring, and feel their teeth.
At Dublin airport by breakfast time, the sour jokes were flying over the plastic chairs: there’ll be plenty of work for Irishmen now—if you want a wall built, the Paddies have not lost the skills. I wanted to see a woman lead the great nation, so my own spine could be straighter this blustery sunny morning. I fear the ship of state is sinking, and we are thrashing in saltwater, snared in our own ropes and nets. Someone must strike out for the surface and clear air. It is possible to cut free from some entanglements, some error and painful beginnings, whether you are a soul or a whole nation.
The weekend before the election, we were in rural Ohio. The moon was a tender crescent, the nights frosty, and the dawns glowed with the crimson and violet of the fall. On Sunday morning, in a cloudless sky, a bird was drifting on the currents, circling. My husband said, “You know they have eagles in this part of the country?” We watched in silence as it cruised high above. “I don’t know if it is an eagle,” he said at last. “But I know that bird is bigger than you think.”
Go back to the top.
By Peter Hessler
The day after Donald Trump’s victory, Susan Watson and Gail Jossi celebrated with glasses of red wine at the True Grit Café, in Ridgway, Colorado. Watson, the chair of the Ouray County Republican Central Committee, is a self-described “child of the sixties,” a retired travel agent, and a former supporter of the Democratic Party. Forty years ago, she voted for Jimmy Carter. Jossi also had a previous incarnation as a Democrat. In 1960, she volunteered for John F. Kennedy’s Presidential campaign. “I walked for Kennedy,” she said. “And then I walked for Goldwater.” These days, she’s a retired rancher, and until recently she was a prominent official of the Republican Party in Ouray County. “This is the first time in forty years that I haven’t been a precinct captain,” she said. “I’m fed up with the Republican Party.”
Initially, neither of the women had backed Trump. “I just didn’t care for him,” Jossi said. “I loved Dr. Carson.”
“I was a Scott Walker,” Watson said. “I thought a ticket with Walker and Fiorina would have been great.” Of Trump, she said, “He grew on me. He seemed to be getting more in tune with the people. The more these thousands and thousands of people showed up, the more he realized that this is real. This is not reality TV.”
Jossi didn’t begin to support Trump until September. “I couldn’t listen to his speeches,” she said. “His repetition. He’s not a politician. My mother and my husband have been big Trump supporters from the beginning, but I wasn’t.” Over time, though, the candidate’s rawness appealed to her, because she believed that he could shake up Washington. “After they’ve been in office, they become too slick,” she said. “I liked that unscripted aspect.”
Ouray is a rural county in southwestern Colorado, a state whose politics have become increasingly complex. On election maps, Colorado looks simple—a four-cornered flyover, perfectly squared off. But the state is composed of many elements: a long history of ranching and mining; a sudden influx of young, outdoors-oriented residents; a total population that is more than a fifth Hispanic. On Tuesday, Coloradans favored Hillary Clinton by a narrow majority, and they endorsed an amendment that will raise the minimum wage by more than forty per cent. They also chose to reject an amendment, promoted by Democratic legislators, that would have removed a provision in the state constitution that allows for slavery and the involuntary servitude of prisoners. If this seems contradictory—raising the minimum wage while protecting the possibility of slavery—it should be noted that the vote was even closer than Clinton versus Trump. In an exceedingly tight race, slavery won 50.6 per cent of the popular vote.
“The slavery thing was ridiculous,” Watson said.
“If it changes the constitution, then I vote no,” Jossi said.
“This is something that they do to get people to go out and vote,” Watson said. “That’s what they did with marijuana.”
“I voted for medical,” Jossi said. “Not recreational.”
“Not recreational,” Watson agreed.
Full disclosure: recreational. But during this election, while standing in a voting booth in the Ouray County Courthouse, at an elevation of seven thousand seven hundred and ninety-two feet, I experienced a sensation of vertigo that may have been shared by 50.6 per cent of my fellow-Coloradans. On a ballot full of odd and confusing measures, I couldn’t untangle the language of Amendment T: “Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning the removal of the exception to the prohibition of slavery and involuntary servitude when used as punishment for persons duly convicted of a crime?” Does yes mean yes, or does yes mean no? The election of 2016 disturbs me in many ways, and one of them is that I honestly cannot remember whether I voted for or against slavery.
This election has given me a renewed appreciation for chaos, confusion, and the limitlessly internal world of the individual. Most analysis will shuffle voters into neat demographic groups, each of them with four corners, perfectly squared off. But there’s something static about these categories—female, rural, white—whereas a conversation with people like Watson and Jossi reveals just how much a person’s ideas can change during the course of decades or even weeks. For an unstable electorate, Trump was the perfect candidate, because he was also a moving target. It was possible for supporters to fixate on any specific message or characteristic while ignoring everything else. At rallies, when people chanted, “Build a wall!” and “Lock her up!,” these statements impressed me as real, tangible courses of action, endorsed by a faceless mob. But when I spoke with individual supporters the dynamic changed: the person had a face, while the proposed action seemed vague and symbolic.
“I think that was a metaphor,” Jossi said, when I asked about the border wall.
“It’s a metaphor for immigration laws being enforced,” Watson said.
Neither of the women, like most other Trump supporters I met, had any interest in the construction of an actual wall. I asked them about Clinton’s e-mail scandal. “I think she’ll be pardoned,” Watson said.
“I’m done with hearing about it,” Jossi said with a shrug. “I just want her gone.”
Trump’s descriptions and treatment of women didn’t seem to bother them. “I’m a strong enough woman,” Watson said. I often heard similar comments from female Trump supporters—in their eyes, it was a show of strength to ignore the candidate’s crudeness and transgressions, because only the weak would react with outrage.