Millennials for Donald Trump, as a concept, feels almost oxymoronic.
Even for young Republicans, who tend to apply their “limited government” ideology across social issues that traditional conservatives oppose, such as gay rights and abortion.
They hear Trump call for a ban on Muslims. Call Mexicans drug dealers and rapists. Make fun of the mentally disabled. They admit he crosses a line and he might be bad for the Republican Party. Still, they support him.
A difficult thing to reconcile is that Trump's inflammatory, irresponsible rhetoric can actually be a positive for moderate Republicans. Although many acknowledge he crosses a line, his willingness not only to cross that line but stomp all over it is his biggest source of respect.
Tired of the Bush and Cheney archetypes filling their party with lies, Trump's seemingly unscripted, unfiltered and sometimes inconsistent rhetoric comes off as honest, genuine and uncompromising.
In other words, he's their Bernie Sanders.
It's a parallel that was only made apparent when the cameras stopped rolling and the tables were turned in terms of Q&A. Having assumed I was a member of “the liberal media,” they commonly asked, who did you primary for?
My answer of “Sanders” elicited surprising responses. Prominent Tump supporters -- namely, Missouri delegate Jeremy Wiggins -- said that while they would never vote for Sanders, they respected him.
More surprisingly, the so-so Trump supporters mentioned that had Sanders won the primary, they might not vote in the presidential election. Though it may have been dishonest, it was clear their vote was rooted less in support than in choosing the lesser of two evils.
In other words, Hillary Clinton is their Donald Trump.
And this was probably my biggest breaking point with the young Republicans -- understanding the inverse level of distaste for Clinton. Is it Benghazi? The emails? Her ambition? Is it remotely possible the distaste stems from latent misogyny?
If all those things are untrue, that leaves only the same battle she faced against Sanders -- debunking the perception of her as an establishment candidate.
It's pretty telling of the current state of politics that minimizing accomplishments as a senator and as secretary of state would be the biggest hurdle in getting elected over an extremist.