I've had thoughts this weekend. A lot of thoughts. And as I am prone to do, I decided to write them down.
1. The offense is not with his vulgar words. The language I use when I'm caught in traffic or just stub my toe is not always PG. While the term "p**sy" is not in my go-to vernacular because I think it's gross, I have been known to drop other colorful words once in a while. My issue is not with Trump's choice of words . . . I can handle that . . . but instead with the fact that those words were strung together to brag about his ability to commit sexual assault. He admits that, as a star, he can "do anything he wants" and doesn't even ask first. That was eleven years ago, you might say. He's a changed man, you argue. OK, let's go with that. Combine the leaked tape with the fact that he called a former beauty contestant fat last week and made comments about a female journalist having "blood come out of her wherever" several months ago and last year he tweeted that Bill Clinton had an affair because Hillary couldn't satisfy him and three years ago he blamed sexual assault in the military on the fact that women were now allowed to serve alongside men and so on . . . and so on. To paraphrase the late, great Dennis Green, "He is who we thought he was."
2. The 50 Shades of Gray comparison is ridiculous. Did you see this meme floating around the internet yesterday? (Because politics has now devolved into memes of poorly spelled half truths) Yes, I found the novel offensive. I was offended that something so poorly written sold millions of copies. I wanted to take a red pen to almost every sentence of the eighty or so pages I got through before giving up. But, while not my cup of fiction tea, I wasn't particularly offended by the content. If suburban housewives want to read about painful yet CONSENSUAL sexual practices, then go for it. But please do not compare that to the words of a man who laughs about grabbing unsuspecting women's genitals. It's not the same thing.
3. A condemnation of Trump's behavior is not an endorsement of the Clintons. I am old enough to remember all of the scandals in which the Clintons have been involved without one of those helpful graphics listing Hillary and Bill's offenses over a black-and-white scary photo of Secretary Clinton that I've seen splashed across Facebook. Heck, I was a White House intern in Fall 1995 . . .with Monica Lewinsky! I passed President Clinton in the hallway of the Old Executive Office Building on more than one occasion. I find his long history of how he treats women to be repugnant and I believe his campaign would have gone a lot differently if he had first run for president in the social media age of 2016 instead of 1992. Oh, and news flash on that topic . . . he's not running for president this year.
And with the Clintons, it goes beyond the sex scandals. Sandy Berger does not sneak off with documents from the National Archives and shred them in his office late at night because he is trying to protect a former boss who has nothing to hide. The Clinton Foundation certainly has questionable pay-to-play transactions with world leaders. I was upset when Secretary Clinton rushed to blame the terror attack on Benghazi on a YouTube video with a hastily typed statement on the State Department website. Bill Clinton gets a pass on Osama bin Laden because the evildoer who tried to bring down the towers in 1993 parked his truck of explosives in the wrong spot . . . a few feet in a different direction and tens of thousands of people may have died. I believe Bill Clinton's multiple accusers when they say that Hillary Clinton "strongly encouraged them" to stay quiet.
I find Hillary Clinton to be a calculating and self-serving politician. I just do. She panders and placates. I am not voting for her. I have many friends whose politics and principles I respect who are voting for her, but I just can't get there. However, all that being said, who Hillary Clinton may or may not be and who Bill Clinton may or may not be DOES NOT lessen the deplorable (yes, I used the word) character of Donald Trump. Please stop saying things like, "What Donald Trump said is indefensible, but Bill Clinton was even worse because he . . ." (if you want an example of this, check out Trump's so-called apology speech in which he claims he's embarrassed by what he said but then five seconds later shifts to saying "but Clinton did a lot worse!" . . . it's very elementary school of him).
I have often played the "lesser of two evils" game when voting in an election. I just can't do it this time. But I tell you this -- I'm less worried about the lasting impact that Clinton will have on our country (particularly because I think she will be a one-term president and because Republicans do have a Senate they now can focus resources on keeping) and the example she will set for our children than I am about Trump.
And side note -- is no one else frightened by how little Trump knows about policy and the Constitution? Is this OK? Just last night in the debate, he criticized Clinton for not advocating to change tax laws when she was in the Senate if it was so important to her. Problem is that all tax bills MUST originate in the House, which is why this body is said to have the "power of the purse." And he proclaimed she would be in jail if he was President and in charge of the laws? That's not really how separation of powers works. Details, details.
And side note number two -- Some have said that the Trump tape was recorded in 2005 and why are we judging the man he is now based on old comments. Yet Bill Clinton's behavior towards women is still relevant to this same crowd. Please name for me a woman who has accused Clinton of sexual assault since 2005. I can't, either. Please be consistent.
4. This CANNOT be dismissed as "typical locker room talk." Every time I hear someone say this phrase, I want to throw something. I really do. And I'm restraining this urge at the same time I'm trying not to vomit, which is a tricky physical and mental exercise.
When I was twelve years old and in the seventh grade, a classmate came up to me and said, "You've got a really skinny waist and I've got a huge d**k. We should get together sometime." Two years later, I was a freshman in high school and leaning over at the water fountain when a boy came up behind me and said, "You've got the best ass I've ever seen. I want to smack it!" Please close your eyes and picture your teenage son saying this to a girl. Or, close your eyes and picture your daughter being the recipient of such language. I've done both and it makes me sick. And I'm FAR from alone in having such stories to tell. I bet every woman I know has had similar experiences. I have other examples besides the two I just shared. Was I scarred for life? No. I don't want to, nor do I expect to, live in a sanitized world in which my sensibilities are acutely and permanently bothered by anything that may offend me. But let's not brush this behavior off and normalize it. It's not OK. It's not "boys will be boys" (or 59-year-old men).
And yes, I know in the instance revealed this weekend Trump did not say the words directly TO the woman but instead to the complacent sidekick he found in Mr. Bush . . . but the culture it promotes is dangerous and the same.
And please don't ever rail about the dangers of a man touching your daughter in a Target bathroom if you don't take the same offense to a presidential candidate claiming he can walk up to any woman and start groping her.
Will my son make comments about a woman's body when he's around his friends? Probably. But if I'm doing my job, he better not touch a woman without her consent. Or just pretend he did for bragging purposes. Or listen to a friend do the same thing without stopping him.
Have I made comments about a man's physical appearance? Yep. Have I made crass jokes? Affirmative. Have I said to my friends, "I really wish I was a rich celebrity so that I could walk up to a hot guy and grab his crotch and force myself on him and get away with it."? Ummm, no.
5. This isn't what finally bothers me about Trump. Many people have rightfully asked why prominent Republicans are just speaking out against Trump now when he is on record saying so many awful things before this recent Billy Bush audio became public. I like to think this is the straw that finally broke the camel's back. I mean, once you mock disabled people and state that you prefer winners over captured POWs and call women fat cows and joke that you would date your daughter and disparage a Gold Star family and show disregard for the freedom of press and freedom of assembly that are guaranteed by our First Amendment and reassure voters about the size of your genitals during a nationally televised debate and advocate taking oil as spoils of war and tout your Christianity but claim never to have needed forgiveness in your life and engage in behavior that runs counter to Christ's teachings to walk humbly and with kindness, patience, and self-control . . . well, eventually those pieces of straw get heavy.
I am proud of leaders like Republican governors John Kasich and Larry Hogan (Go Terps!) who have stood on principle and against Donald Trump from the start. I hope to have the opportunity to campaign for both for them in the future. And to those who have sold their conservative soul to stand by him (Ryan, Giuliani, Christie, Gingrich, etc), you never will receive a vote from me.
In Conclusion. I don't hate Donald Trump. Not at all. I am FAR from perfect and fall short every day in being consistently kind and the example I want to be for my children. But I also cannot be complicit and silent when I witness behavior in an election that I find so upsetting. I have many family members and friends who will be voting for Donald Trump. I love them and value those relationships. I hope they feel the same in return for my refusal to vote as they do. From talking with them, most find Trump's behavior indefensible but still find a greater threat in a Clinton presidency or they simply want to stick it to the establishment no matter what the outcome. I don't agree with that decision, but I understand its foundation.
I'm just sad for the country. I'm sad that campaign information is reduced to tweets and Facebook memes. I'm sad that a good part of the debate last night and media coverage for the entire weekend was spent on a disgusting audio tape. I'm sad that there hasn't been an opportunity to hear any real substance from either candidate. I'm sad that we've all devolved into participants in a boorish reality show. I'm sad that this is going to be the first campaign that my kids really remember and that while I once was so excited to share my passion for politics with my children, now I'm embarrassed that this is what adults have to offer them.