A couple of weeks ago, my dad and I stood on a Palm Beach sandbar staring at President Trump's Mar-a-Lago golf club and resort. My dad didn't dress up much for the trip. He was wearing his quintessential summer garb of knee-high white sport socks, a faux Polo shirt from the sale rack and a pair of somewhat saggy khaki shorts.
We used my camera's zoom to see the president's resort because the local police and the red-shirted Mar-a-Lago security guards staked outside don't allow commoners an up-close view.
From our perch on the side of the bay farthest away from Mar-a-Lago's front gates, we could catch a glimpse of the lush green manicured lawns and the white tents that workers were in the process of setting up for weekend events. Most of what goes on at Trump's members-only resort happens behind the terra-cotta walls and requires the (recently doubled) $200,000 membership fee.
Even though my dad and I were standing on the same sandbar, looking through the same zoomed phone screen, squinting in the same midday sun, and turned away by the same security guard, we saw totally different things.
I saw the disgustingly gaudy property of a self-serving, thin-skinned, unethical womanizer. I saw the home of a man who seems willing to destroy the country for the sake of protecting his ego. I saw the house of a putative billionaire who hoodwinked working-class Americans into believing that he's a fiscally conservative populist and yet spends $3.6 million in taxpayer money each weekend to relax at his estate. I saw the house of a con artist.
My dad, squinching his eyes to see Mar-a-Lago across the bay, saw the estate of a president who deserves and earns all that he has. "He will make my taxes be lesser. I think my sense of America's place in the world will make me feel better," my dad said.
Trump makes my dad feel good. That's why I took my dad to Mar-a-Lago.
My dad calls himself a "socially and fiscally conservative voter ... who would like to see the former order of things preserved." But unlike many Trump supporters who don't have a good answer when asked about the period when America had the greatness they want to go back to, my father is pretty specific. He wants to see things go back to "the way things were during Reagan's second term."
The entire drive on I-95 to the sandbar where we stood looking at Mar-a-Lago we talked politics, like we always do. We talked politics as we walked along the ocean boardwalk after Mar-a-Lago. There were a couple of other things we talked about that day, like my woes about the cost of housing in San Francisco and the tree that fell on my parents' house during a recent winter storm in Boston, but, as usual, our conversation settled squarely on politics.