Holy shit America.
Last week when I wrote Revenge of the Ballot: Women Don’t Need Help or Permission to Send Trump Packing, the whole Access Hollywood live mic scandal hadn’t yet broken. The candidate’s attempt to intimidate Hillary Clinton by menacingly skulking behind her during the second debate hadn’t occurred. The sexual assault allegations against Trump from seemingly all eras and corners of the female earth hadn’t been levied. And attorneys for The New York Times hadn’t issued an open invitation for Trump to sue the paper for libel (essentially a Clint Eastwood-esque “Make our day” challenge in legalese). It’s been a whiplash-inducing week. Everyone ok out there?
Anyone left with doubts, no matter how partisan, Trump loyal or otherwise willfully ignorant, finally has an inkling that the Donald is an inveterate, toxic scumbag. The truth literally can’t be avoided. It buttresses last weekend’s Republican exodus from the Trump train (although some of them eventually tried to reboard – oy). Larger than the GOP nominee’s very public self-destruction and takedown of whatever was left of the conservative brand however, lies a larger and obvious (at least to the majority of Americans – pundits and private citizen alike) question.
How in the world did the Republican Party let this happen?
A “yuge” cohort of these fucking chumps have sunk their careers over the orange madman (sayonara Rudy Giuliani, Mark Kirk and Kelly Ayotte). They also stood idly by, watching for over 16 months as the reality TV star and misogynist nightmare hijacked what was left of an entire political apparatus. The schadenfreude is delicious for many on the left but just not satisfying enough for the majority of conservative commentators blanching with all the sads (has anyone but the Washington Examiner done a health check on David Brooks?)…and womankind. Sociopolitical culture is pulsating with a sense that an overwhelming Clinton victory on November 8 doesn’t weigh the full pound of flesh we’re owed for this tragedy.
It’s kind of tough to decide the parsing and allotment of one’s disdain. Does a majority slice get apportioned to RNC Chairman Reince Preibus who issued the famous post-Mitt Romney drubbing “autopsy” report? True story: in advocating for a softer tone and broader outreach to female voters, he wrote, “I think our policies are sound, but I think in many ways the way we communicate can be a real problem.”
Preibus and I can wholeheartedly agree to disagree about the soundness of party policy that claims dominion over the female body, wage inequality and other areas of citizenry concern. But was this election cycle what he had in mind vis a vis shoring up talking points? #RepealThe19th, invalidate our ballots and our public right to respect?
Do we save the lion’s share of rejection and vitriol for House Speaker and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan? He’ll no longer campaign with Trump and disinvited the candidate to his state’s redneck hootenanny last weekend, but it’s an awfully far cry from making the right, honorable choice to use his considerable clout to force Donald off the ticket. Forget about 2020 Ryan. The way things look, there’s no November 9, 2016 for you and your cronies.
Maybe we should turn our collective wrath on the aforementioned Mitt Romney who had absolutely no problem courting and accepting Donald Trump’s endorsement in 2012, only to rant apoplectically about his temporal ascent to the top of the party ticket. Cynicism and hypocrisy at its absolutely most vile. I don’t even have the energy to deal with Romney’s appropriation of Trump’s offensive behavior as an affront to men with wives, daughters and mothers. Like so many privileged dudes of all political stripes, nothing is real or threatening until it impacts their human assets. Excuse me, personal relationships.
It seems the Republican Party and its desperate, power hungry spokespeople didn’t think the racist, misogynist, anti-conservative (Withdraw from NATO? Embrace Putin?) invective stream that’s poured from Trump since the 2015 launch of his presidential bid was enough for repudiation. Until six days ago. It took a recorded conversation with Billy Bush and a coarse, blunt admission of committing and getting away with repeated sexual assault. Well I’m glad we finally know where the red line is. Charlatans.
It’s hard to find an upside to a presidential candidate’s complete degradation of women and the partisan magpies of which he has taken full advantage. Better late than never just won’t do when it comes to standing against the systemic subjugation of more than 50 percent of the country. However if we’re to take anything positive from this horrendous, exhausting experience, let’s applaud the uplift of female voices. Victims of sexual assault are finding community, and at long, overdue last, a mainstream media and electorate ready (for the most part) to listen and learn.
These courageous women are finally getting some action and reaction. What’s happened and continues to happen is not right and it will never be ok. But the conversation is a place to start. And on November 8, we can finally finish the embarrassing, violent Trump chapter of American electoral history.