I could never date a Trump supporter. I’m not sure what this says about me. Some people would find it admirable. Some would say it’s common sense. Many would call me closed-minded. And still others would say “so much for the tolerant left,” call me a sore loser, possibly a bigot, and possibly blame me for ripping the country apart. If you’re in that last group, I’ve got great news: There’s an app for that.
Bonus: It comes with a urologist.
The long-awaited MAGA-only dating safe space Righter launched earlier this month. Founder Christy Edwards Lawton says she designed the app to connect Trump supporters who find themselves increasingly rejected on extant libtard dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble. To be clear, this is one of the most profoundly lame ideas to come out of the right wing’s whining and whinging self-victimizing internet culture war machine, which all the WD-40 on the planet can’t silence. For the launch, Lawton—who has worked as a fundraiser for Turning Point USA, a right-wing complaining organization headed by fact-challenged Charlie Kirk (whom a data leak revealed as a power-user of an online escort service) and whose members were recently busted for sharing racist rape memes—engaged in a trollish PR campaign that included vague threats of suing liberals who use her platform: “I have a very nice legal team that will be handling that,” she told the Daily Beast. Lawton excused the move by saying, “They’re sitting here suing our president.” (It’s unclear how this could work in the real world, and as far as I can tell Righter’s terms of service don’t mention anything at all approaching Lawton’s threat. I have used the app and I am a liberal. So sue me.)
That was a PR stunt, but the app does have a rulebook all its own, largely taking cues from popular culture war battlespheres. For instance, women on Righter can report men who don’t pay for the first date. Also, unlike its competitors, Righter assumes all its users are straight and doesn’t even present you with an option otherwise. And in a wholly unnecessary jab at Bumble, where only women can initiate conversations, Righter says that on Righter, men make the first move. (This talking point, I have learned, is inaccurate. Women can also start conversations.)
The result is predictably obnoxious and childish. (To state the obvious: No other dating apps dismiss or make fun of Trump supporters, nor do they make fun of anyone.) The app’s Instagram and Twitter feeds blend self-promotion with deeply conservative, deeply divisive winking rhetoric about identity politics and adulation of President Trump that strays into the sexual realm. Righter social media also appropriates political moments as dating advice, such as they did with this video of Trump abandoning Argentinian President Mauricio Macri onstage at G20. They also hold up conservatives as being especially attractive, with unintentionally hilarious results. Their feeds also regularly extol Trump and Melania’s relationship as a model for what real American love should look like. (Sidebar: Donald Trump has betrayed all his wives, including Melania, whom he cheated on with an ex-Playmate and a porn star while she was still nursing the son she bore him.)
Here’s a fairly typical post about gender dynamics from Righter’s Instagram:
On Righter, MAGA victimization has hit exhibitionist levels. The Twitter feed blends dating advice and encouragement with straight-up propaganda:
When you really like someone, we call that a MAGAlike.#RIGHTER is available for download on #appstore and #googleplaypic.twitter.com/fKhmqgWKpx— Righter (@wearerighter) December 16, 2018
And that propaganda itself is weirdly extreme: Under constant attack from the left and the right? The feed has also vaguely threatened insurrection:
The Democrats don't dare try to impeach President Trump on these flimsy campaign finance violations. America would revolt!— Righter (@wearerighter) December 15, 2018
Other details leap out. The first paragraph of Righter’s Community Guidelines has three typos. (There’s one more solipsism here I’m not a big enough asshole to highlight. Happy hunting, elitists.)
There’s an antiterrorism disclaimer:
And the folks behind Righter not only tell users what is morally right and wrong, they seem to share the same weird obsession with pedophilia that feed the most outlandish right-wing conspiracy theories, such as Pizzagate and Q-Anon.
The app also offers subscription-based virtual medical consultations to their medical “team” via an option called “Righter Medical.” The Righter Medical team to date comprises one doctor, Dr. Joseph Williams, a decorated Naval veteran of Operation Desert Storm and Desert Shield now practicing urology in Boise, Idaho.
It’s a thoughtful idea, to be sure, though it’s unclear why anyone would turn to a dating app for medical advice, let alone pay $24.99 a month for it. The two things aren’t related. Might as well have Righter Mechanics or Righter Accountants. But the only available physician is a reproductive health specialist, so a superficial connection sort of makes sense given the popular conflation of dating apps as hookup apps—though this does seem at odds with the family values-oriented Righter’s emphasis that it is not a hookup app. (The app says the feature “Helps reduce trepidation when dating!”) Here I’ll submit without comment a recent study that suggests Trump offers unique appeals to men of a certain age who are insecure about their masculinity.
The Righter Experience
I tried it, of course. The actual app experience was pretty much what you’d expect from an app designed by Trump supporters for Trump supporters: Buggy; hard to use; a direct ripoff of other apps; pitched a weird scam involving reproductive health; nowhere near as popular as the marketing wants you to believe; and of course, the grammar issues.
It works like any other dating app: You create a profile with pictures and a short bio, and you’re presented with pictures of people from the opposite sex. If you like their pic and/or bio (Righter profiles prioritize height), you swipe right; if not, swipe left. If someone you liked also swipes right on you, it’s a match, and you get to chat about Uranium One or how many genders there really are (answer: eighteen) or whatever. If that goes well, you can meet up and girls can hope the dude isn’t as murdery and/or dorky as he appears.
I live in Austin, a dark blue oasis in the red Texas desert, so not many women showed up. But even maximizing my radius (500 miles) and age range (18-60+), fewer than twenty women appeared, total, including a handful that were for some reason ~2,500 miles away. So right off we have evidence that in Trump world it also holds true that women are much smarter than men.
I guessed about 500,000 guys were on there, but since Righter assumes everyone who uses it is straight, I didn’t have the chance to test that thesis. I did, however, inveigle my girlfriend to do it, and yes, there were far, far too many men. (I swear I have a girlfriend. Her name is Saskiana and she’s an UnderArmour model and lives in Montreal, which she proved with pictures she asked me not to share with anyone. Also, she doesn’t show up when you Google her for reasons she doesn’t seem to have been 100% honest with me about.)
Almost all the profiles or pictures I came across not only championed Trump, they slammed liberals. Here’s literally the first that came up for me:
But there’s where the weird cult psychology stuff comes in. The app purports to be a positive experience—connecting people in search of love through a common interest—but that common interest is support of a political demagogue, which when you think about it for two seconds is an absolutely terrifying development for this cult. It’s also baffling to see how many people having joined this app because they love Trump, make it explicitly clear on the app that they love Trump. It’s just very, very weird and gives me the creeps.
But the thing is, it’s not positive. Righter unites its users against a common perceived other, a perceived liberal enemy. And that’s the truly troubling thing: The app is hate masquerading as love.
Because even though Righter as a platform is technically a safe space—a sanctuary from those prejudiced liberal love-obstructionists who apparently dominate other popular apps to the point it becomes unusable, unfair, and even offensive—to admit this means to admit on some level a personal failing. That’s why Righter’s messaging takes the victimization a step further and—getting its cue from how the Trump crowd attacks the media and urban elites—casts those competing apps as being liberal in and of themselves, as part of that same urban elitist media apparatus. (Also: Why the feigned outrage that geography-based apps reflect the biases of the real world?)
Righter therefore positions itself as not just a platform, but as an overtly and divisively political reaction to an imaginary hypocritical, unfair world that oppresses conservatives at every turn, including dating app format.
I shouldn’t have to say this, but obviously someone needs to. It’s not Trump; it’s you. Many people see your continuing support for Trump not as a problem, but as a symptom, signaling you almost certainly hold specific values dear that other people—and apparently a whole lot of them—find intolerable in a mate. (I’ve dated Republicans in the past, but I could never, ever date a Trump supporter.) So unless you’re a Trump supporter who also abhors all his policies and behavior, for a lot of Americans it’s simply not meant to be.
Turns out a whooooollllllle lot of those Americans are young women living in cities.
The breadth of rejection shouldn’t surprise anyone. Trump’s approval rating hovers around 40%, and it’s highest in rural areas. (The mainstream dating apps Righter positions itself against—Tinder, OkCupid, and Bumble—are popular in areas with dense populations, where Trump is unpopular.) Age is also a factor: According to an AP poll, about 33 percent of people between 15 and 34 approve of the president’s job performance. Of that same age range, 60 percent said Trump was “mentally unfit,” and 63 percent said he “is a racist.” Trump’s approval rating among women has also steadily hung around 30-33 percent.
Look: If you’re a Trump supporting dude living in an urban area and looking to match with a twenty- or thirty-something woman, it’s not a “liberal” app’s fault. You’ll probably (though not necessarily) be hard pressed to find that kind of match in that region, and politics are a symptom of the real reason. (Kinda weird for a group that despises urban elites to use a pic of Times Square for its homepage banner.) This is common sense in the real world, and I don’t know why people would be outraged to find this holds true for geography-based apps as well. BUT if you live in a rural area and are looking for a man between the ages of 50 and 64 who goes to church every week, Righter just might be the place for you!
So yeah, I guess the idea isn’t completely insane. After all, Trump aides and Republican staffers in D.C. have complained about rejection based on their politics. And we’ve got a host of other alternative dating apps designed for rural Americans and conservatives, such as Christian Mingle, Plenty of Fish, and Farmers Only. Hell, about a decade ago Sean Hannity launched “Hannidate,” which connected Hannity fans ISO Hannity fans. (To Hannity’s credit, his site did also cater to a gay audience.)
At the end of the day, if your belief system is so widely rejected and so narrowly defined that you’re at the point you can’t get a date, you might want to revise that belief system. You’re not a victim of love. And you’re certainly not a victim of apps.