Daniel Chen, 19, from Austin/TX is a finance major at renowned New York University (annual tuition: 65 000 dollars). He is the secretary of the NYU College Republicans. In the upcoming Presidential elections he will vote for Donald Trump.The interview.

What made you a Republican?

I started paying attention in the 2016 election, when Trump ran against Hillary Clinton. All my friends and teachers were against Trump, they said he was a wild character a bad fellow. When I asked my father who he would vote for, he said Trump because he was good for business and good for getting rid of too much bureaucracy. That made me think. I started to look for myself. I joined the debate classes and began listening to speeches, reading up on politics. One of the teachers was great, he taught us to see the other side’s point of view. He is a Libertarian.

Where does your information come from? Social media?

My social media usage is relatively limited. TV news I stopped watching, I don’t want to improve their ratings.  Most of what I know I gather from long forms, like videos of talks, mostly on YouTube. I like a lot of podcasts.

Do you watch or listen to Steve Bannon, Trump’s first strategist and adviser?

No. Almost no one talks about Steve Bannon. He is inconsequential.

Who is your father?

He is a software engineer. He and my mother immigrated from China. My father is not paying a lot of attention to politics. He voted for Romney in 2012, for Trump in 2016 and for Biden in 2020.

And 2024?
The way things are both of my parents will not vote. They are sick of both candidates.

And you?

I will vote for Trump.

The stereotypical Trump voter is a white uneducated angry old coot who sees a sinister communist conspiracy behind everything he does not like. You do not come across like this.

I do not believe these stereotypes are true – they only apply to a fringe minority of his supporters. The left and the media attempt to paint support for Trump as an endorsement of his lesser qualities. However, I believe people support Trump because of his good qualities and in spite of those bad qualities.

What are good qualities with Donald Trump?

I think he  has good political instincts. He is very good at taking down enemies. People like that. Also, he governed well and passed a lot of conservative priorities when he was President from 2017 through 2020. If elected to another term, we will see a lot of this coming up again.

What do you consider bad qualities with Trump?

One negative factor is that he sees things black and white. He divides people into those who are loyal to him and those who are not. This leads him to attack some as enemies who are actually not against him. In a way, he is is own worst enemy. Another negative is his character which is not amazing. He was a celebrity for many years, and part of the left-wing Hollowyood culture until he announced to run for the Presidency.

Trump believes he won the 2020 election. Do you agree?

I don’t believe that. He lost fair and square. He continues to harp on the idea that the 2020 election was stolen. I am able to tolerate this his whining but I certainly do not agree with it.

How about global warming?

I believe global warming is real. I actually think that he believes this too. But the effects are overstated. The media and the Democrats make us believe that it is an existential threat. The alarmists have announced the end of the world several times and it has not happened. We should adopt reasonable climate measures, not radical ones. We should take another look at nuclear energy and a harder look to innovation.

How do you feel about Trump’s threats against migrants and migration?

For me it is important to make a clear distinction between legal immigration and illegal immigration. We should reject all illegal immigration and deport all illegals, and we should continue taking in legal immigrants. Both my parents came from China, on visas, getting green cards and citizenship. That’s the process. America is a nation of immigrants. We take the best and the brightest, the hard-working ones. With illegal immigration, we don’t know who comes. They might be criminals or terrorists, they drag on our resources, and they have no respect for the rule of law.

Every group of newcomers to America has been the subject of suspicions like the ones you put forward. Is the current animosity against illegal immigrants racially motivated?

I don’t think so. I come from Texas. That’s a pretty Hispanic state. I spent last summer working in a small Texas town, San Marcos. Very rural, a lot of people fit what you called the stereotypical Trump voters. Everybody was happy with the Mexicans and very concerned with illegal immigration. Those who say the poor whites in rural areas are all racists are well-to-do whites in affluent areas, like the neighborhood in Austin where I grew up. My friends and colleagues there are all liberals. By the way, many Hispanics don’t like illegal immigration either. This is why Trump gets more traction among them. If Trump would say that he was against all immigration, I would not support him.

The Democrats point to a strong economy and strong economic data. Does this resonate with you?

No. The economy is bad. When people talk about the economy they talk about inflation. Everyone feels it. Everything has gone up; you see it when you go shopping or at the gas station. That’s why people think the economy is bad.  Biden has allowed a horrible inflation that was totally preventable.


Two things. One is that the Biden administration continued with absurdly high COVID-spending even when the pandemic was over and increased spending with the “inflation reduction act”. The other is that the Federal Reserve kept interest rates for too long at historically low level instead of rising them.

There is a lot of talk about the so-called social issues, like race relations, gender and sexual orientation matters. How important is this for you?

It’s certainly important at the university, for the students and teachers which are left-wing and liberal in their majority. For the general population these things are not very important. The election is about immigration and the economy. At the university the race and gender issues play a huge role, and it went too far. The left has constructed a racial hierarchy which on one end qualifies all whites as inherently privileged and on the other all blacks as the most underprivileged, with Hispanics and maybe Asians and other “non-whites” in between. People are classified accordingly in “affinity groups”, and jobs or admissions are allocated along DEI programs – “diversity, equity, inclusion”.

Does this apply for the grading of papers, too? What happens if you question these systems?

You toe the line, or you get a bad mark.

How important will the abortion issue be, and where do you stand on abortion.

It is overshadowed by immigration and the economy. Also, we are two years after the repeal of Roe v. Wade. People are adjusting to the new status quo. Me personally,  I am pro-life. I believe all abortion should be banned except in cases where a mother’s life is at stake.

Are you following what goes on in the world? In Europe, a lot of people are concerned about a second Presidency of Donald Trump because they deem him unpredictable, erratic and dangerous.

They cried wolf the first time around and nothing happened. Trump is the first President in a long time who did not start a new war. When he was President, we had a more peaceful world. Hamas did not attack Israel, Russia did not attack Ukraine, there was peace in Asia. Under Biden, supposedly the great mastermind on foreign policy, we see the world go up in flames.

A President Trump would pull the plug of US support for Ukraine.

He will try to negotiate an end to the war. The Europeans may not like it. They can complain as much as they want to. If Europe cares so much, it can do its part.

Not only in Europe, but in the US, too, many fear that Trump will be an autocrat, an authoritarian ruler without regard for the rules of the political game. This is why I call him a caudillo, in the Spanish world the notion for an autocrat. It is like a cult. Many think this is dangerous.

He does have authoritarian tendencies; I can see that. But I am not concerned. Our constitutional framework will be strong enough to hold him in check. And after a second term, he will leave politics altogether, making room for a younger generation of Republicans and conservatives.

Will your assessment change if he is convicted? How important are the many lawsuits against him?

I think all of them should be thrown out. All of them are absurd. None of them would be launched against any other political candidate. They are just there to exhaust his resources. No case amounts to anything. This is reflected in the polls. It would not change my opinion at all if Trump would be sentenced. I don’t need a court to make up my mind.

I met a lot of people who almost venerate Donald Trump, like a Führer. I call him the Caudillo, that’s the word for autocrats in the Spanish speaking world. It is almost cult-like. How do you view this?

 As I said, there are bad sides with Trump and with Trump supporters. I am only a Trump supporter because there is no alternative. In the primaries I supported Vivek Ramaswamy and after he dropped out Ron Desantis. We should have generational change, new leaders. This will happen after the second Trump presidency. He will be gone.

Why did Desantis and Ramaswamy not succeed?

People vote for Trump because he is fun and charismatic.

You said your parents won’t vote. Many people are deeply unhappy about having to decide between two very old men. Who will benefit from low turnout?

It will hurt Biden because he is incredibly unpopular, and the Democrats are not that excited about mobilizing for him. Biden voters will reluctantly go to the polls. The Republicans are more energetic currently. People who like Trump will walk over broken glass to vote for him.


A shortened version of this interview in German translation is published with Swiss online magazine Watson.ch