Warning: This article contains graphic language that was once used by the Republican candidate for President of the United States, Donald Trump.
This past weekend was an absolute political shitshow. First came the ~revelation~ to many Republicans and the American public that Donald Trump is not respectful to women. In a leaked 2005 tape from Access Hollywood Trump proclaims that, when you’re a star, women will let you do anything, even “grab them by the pussy.” Next came Trump’s deplorable debate performance wherein he threatened to throw his opponent, Hillary Clinton, into jail should he capture the presidency.
After claiming that Mexicans are rapists, that all African Americans live in “hell” or the inner city, after mocking a reporter’s physical disability, and threatening to prevent Muslims from entering the United States, many in the Republican establishment finally decided that Trump had gone too far when he suggested that he could and would take advantage of a core American constituency: white women. Over the weekend, a number of Republican elites emphasized that, since they knew women personally and were related to some (managing to circumvent the fact that women are people), they could not imagine supporting Trump after such denigrating comments.
In response, Trump doubled down, suggesting he would never drop out of the race and bringing up Bill Clinton’s past affairs and sexual assaults. Before the debate, he held a press conference with Juanita Broaddrick, who has accused Bill Clinton of rape, Paula Jones, who sued him for sexual harassment, and Kathleen Willey who claimed that Bill Clinton made forceful sexual advances towards her when she was a volunteer in the White House in 1993. Trump also included Kathy Shelton, who was raped by Thomas Alfred Taylor when she was 12 years old. Clinton (unwillingly) defended Taylor in court when she was a legal aid lawyer at the University of Arkansas.
While it can be said, perhaps, that Trump is bringing these women’s stories to the forefront where they have been discredited before, it is, without question, disgusting to use sexual assault survivors for political gain and to place blame on Hillary Clinton for Bill Clinton’s abuse, failures and other wrongdoing.
In the debates, Trump sputtered and stammered and redirected questions about his 2005 comments to the “real” issues, vaguely bringing up ISIS and Hillary Clinton’s record. Trump lobbed accusations about Clinton enabling her husband, being the “devil,” and having “hate in her heart.“ Anderson Cooper repeatedly asked Trump if he had ever committed the acts that he described in the Access Hollywood tapes and Trump ultimately denied ever literally grabbing women by the genitals.
This debate was inundated with these unfortunate topics, while important issues for the nation hang in the balance. What is most frustrating is that these debates should be about ideas, not solely character attacks. Yet, Donald Trump is the Republican nominee. He is short on specifics and shows most strength when he is debasing and demeaning others. This is his territory.
At this point, it is essential to note that the two candidates are not comparable. One has discussed his willingness to sexually assault women (or at least lie about sexually assaulting women to impress other men) and his desire to imprison his political opponent–a move straight out of a dictator’s handbook. While Clinton is not perfect, her candidacy does not threaten the future of the American democratic republic, as does Trump’s candidacy. His words and very person are an anathema to the common decency needed to be the President of the United States and innovate solutions to the problems facing the nation.
I, for one, cannot sit idly by and enable Trump’s racist, misogynist campaign to continue without speaking out. Everyone needs to be aware of Trump’s strongman tendencies and his disdain for women and people of color. Spread the word, register to vote, and take your friends to the polls. Decency and experience must win.