The Real Reason Donald Trump Doesn't Drink Alcohol

While it certainly seems like Donald Trump and Joe Biden are poles apart and have absolutely nothing in common (apart from both being bound and determined to win the 2020 presidential election, that is), there is one area in which they share common ground — Trump and Biden are both lifelong non-drinkers. Biden cites as his reason for sobriety the fact that alcoholism apparently ran rampant on his mother's side of the family and also impacted his brother Frankie (via Marie Claire). His son, Hunter, has also struggled with addiction to drugs as well as booze.

Trump has been even more forthcoming about the family tragedy that led to his eschewing "demon rum" (and all those other evil spirits): in a 2015 interview with the Daily Mail, he opened up about his adored older brother Fred who struggled with alcoholism throughout his short life (he died at age 43, presumably from alcohol-related reasons). According to Trump, Fred "was the greatest guy I knew," but acknowledged that Fred "had a very, very, very tough life because of alcohol. But it just broke my heart the way he died. It was ridiculous, if you think about it. He had so much in front of him. So much."

As for his own lifelong abstinence from adult beverages, Trump cited his brother's negative example as well as his well-meaning advice to his younger brother to keep away from the booze that would be his own downfall: "This is why I don't drink, ever. I just don't do it. Fred told me not to, and I saw what happened to him when he didn't follow his own advice."

How alcoholism in the family may have impacted Trump

In an op-ed piece written for Newsweek, Susan Cheever (herself the daughter of troubled, hard-drinking author John Cheever, via The Guardian) wrote of the impact a close family member's drinking can have on survivors. She shared that non-drinking adult children or siblings may have a tendency to be "control freaks, hyper-competent because somebody has to get things done in an alcoholic household." She also says that they may be "shockingly honest and occasionally suffused with rage" due to the same family tragedy that prompted their adamant anti-drinking stance.

Taking a look at Trump specifically, having a sibling with alcoholism likely impacted him, and still does. "Because you're so closely tied to your sibling, it's not always easy to remain detached and impassive," note Patricia Olsen and Dr. Petros Levounis in their book Sober Siblings

Cheever notes that he tends to play several different roles typical of a sober family member of an alcoholic: he acts the responsible caretaker, finding jobs for family members and encouraging them to maintain sobriety. He's also the super-successful hero (love him or loathe him, you can't deny the larger-than-life role he plays on an international stage), and he's certainly the scapegoat who's willing to speak the truth as he sees it no matter the consequences. Other non-drinking family members in other family units explain that they don't like the lack of control drinking results in, which could also be a factor in the president's decision. 

Trump will touch wine for religious (or diplomatic) reasons

Trump has admitted that there is one occasion on which he will consume a tiny amount of wine, and that is when he is attending church. Speaking at a Family Leadership Summit in 2015, he said: "When we go in church... I drink the little wine, which is about the only wine I drink."

More recently, social media blew up over an incident where Trump was seen with wine glass in hand at a 2017 U.N. Function in New York. At a luncheon hosted by the Secretary General of the United Nations, speeches were delivered and toasts were made and Trump participated in the latter (as well as the former). Upon two occasions during the luncheon, he was seen to take what was described by The Telegraph as "a sip" before passing the glass off to an aide. There was some speculation that he could have had his glass filled with grape juice or his favorite Diet Coke instead, but even if it was wine in the glass, it's clear that he ingested nowhere near the amount that would intoxicate even the tiniest person.

As Trump himself admitted in a 2018 Rose Garden press conference, his lifelong sobriety is "one of my only good traits." He went on to say, "I never had alcohol, for whatever reason. Can you imagine if I had? What a mess I would be. I would be the world's worst."