Audio has surfaced of Trump making demeaning comments about women and explicitly bragged about his right as a celebrity to sexually assault them, moments before greeting and hugging actress Arianne Zucker for a taped segment of “Access Hollywood”.
The backlash has been swift and unforgiving, and the leaked audio has garnered a worldwide response. Many influential figures in the GOP such as Paul Ryan have chosen to distance themselves from Trump in light of the leak. While I am not dismissing the possibility of a Trump presidency, I will say that this may be the lowest point of his campaign.
Trump is unapologetically himself, but we have all played a role in his candidacy. It’s time to ask ourselves: Of all the vile things Trump has said throughout this election, why is this the major turning point?
Trump’s initial bid for candidacy was seen as a joke. Most of us were amused and in disbelief, we took joy in poking fun at his hair and his disproportionately small hands. But in his first presidential announcement speech, he claimed Mexico and South America were sending drug dealers, criminals, and rapists into the U.S. to wreak havoc. A bold proclamation which has served as the basis for his restrictive immigration policy proposals.
The list of women Donald Trump has insulted and demeaned was lengthy years before he even began his campaign. When Megyn Kelly took him to task for some of his past misogynistic comments during an early GOP debate, he waved her away with a dismissive comment about how “the big problem this country has is being politically correct.”
As each day passes, more and more women have come forward with their experiences of being sexually assaulted and harassed by Trump. In 1989, his ex-wife Ivana Trump accused him of rape. Their divorce was finalized in 1991 and entails a gag order which prevents her from speaking about their marriage.
So why was it not enough when Trump put forth his Islamophobic, xenophobic, and downright racist policy proposals?
What about the numerous accusations of discrimination against black people in many of his business ventures, or his inhumane views on refusing to allow in Syrian refugees and immigrants seeking a new life? We all know when Trump speaks of closing borders to potential threats, he is not speaking about immigrants like his German-born grandfather Frederick Trump.
This past April, the “imperial wizard” of a Ku Klux Klan chapter endorsed Trump, as did David Duke, a former grand wizard of the KKK. Trump refused to condemn the former.
Millions of Americans knowingly jumped on board “Make America Great Again” not in spite of, but because of Trump’s approach to our borders and promises of mass deportation. Racist Americans breathed a sigh of relief when finally, a candidate appeared that would shun political correctness, and openly admit to prejudices while steadfastly implementing policies based on them. Many of Trump’s followers and supporters feel disenfranchised, and they grasp at his snake oil solutions, rooted in little more than bigotry, paranoia and Trump’s unwavering confidence in himself.
What disturbs me, and what has disturbed me since the beginning of his campaign, is that this collective outrage did not exist in the face of everything he has said and vowed to do as president. It does not seem to exist for those who will be harmed the most by his policies.
The tepid, almost nonexistent reaction from liberals and white allies who claim to be anti-racist speaks volumes. Ultimately, it belies a lack of empathy for people of color.
Do I believe Trump’s comments about grabbing women by their genitalia were deserving of such backlash? Absolutely, the violent rhetoric he’s expressed toward women should not be ignored or excused.
Trump’s bigoted rhetoric as a presidential candidate should inspire as large a response, as his entire platform is based on the violent misogyny and racism he expresses in his personal life.