Many pundits in the UK are wondering why the latest scandal to have hit Donald Trump’s presidential campaign seems to have created such problems for him when previous horrible things he has said have had so little impact. Sure the “grab her pussy” stuff is vile, but no worse than a myriad of other choice Trump quotes, right? So then why has it led John McCain to finally say he won’t vote for Trump, while a chorus of other prominent Republican senators have also publicly disowned their candidate for president in the wake of the recordings being released?
What this comes down to is values. According to most people in this country’s values, even amongst conservatives, making racist comments towards Mexicans, mocking the disabled, alluding to the assassination of his political rival, and even previous sexist/misogynistic comments are in many ways worse than this latest set of comments about being sexually aggressive. But in American conservative circles, everything he has previously said has been relatively okay – borderline at times, but survivable. The problem with the 2005 recordings is that they directly contradict American conservative values in a way that is unavoidable.
For one, Trump had just got married before having uttered his comments – and the woman he was referring to being aggressive towards was a married woman as well. American conservatives are very focused on faith, family, flag – and the middle one is perhaps the most important. So Trump has demonstrated how this means nothing to him within these recordings.
But more importantly, the predatory angle of what he said has hit American conservative men in a very deep emotional way. They tend to have a proprietorial attitude towards their wives and daughters, and Trump’s aggressive outlook that all women are fair game to have their genitals grabbed has set off the protective, very male feeling within these Republican red blooded blokes now that their women folk are under direct threat from the Donald. And they have reacted, finally, against the man as a result.
So to clear up the confusion, it isn’t that Trump has said one sexist comment too many – it is that he’s finally crossed a line in the sand with right-wing men in that he has threatened their “territory”. I, like many, had figured there was nothing Trump could say that would sink him. But I hadn’t thought of this possibility – that he could threaten GOP male interests in such a visceral manner. Congratulations, Donald: you managed to find one of the few ways to do something bad enough that could make a bunch of people convinced to back you no matter what finally break.
Whether this is enough to derail his bid to become leader of the free world, we can only hope.
Joel Monkarsh says
The reason this will not end Trump’s candidacy is mostly the difficulty of getting him off the state ballots. However, his certainly rids of the danger that the xenophobic, sociopathic, and racist fascist creep could win the White House, so for the time being our civil liberties, and our international alliance system is reasonably safe.
The problem Clinton faces is the poison this demagogue has spewed into our political system. Moreover, even if the next president gains a bare majority in the Senate, a high gerrymandered House will block her at every step.
To paraphrase Robert Kennedy, each country gets the government and legal system it deserves. We nominate the most extreme representatives of each party’s political base and make sure that the situation gets worse, because the only real competition is within each party’s respective primaries, so the general elections at the congressional level is generally meaningless. It becomes a vicious cycle, so perhaps the rise of someone akin to Donald Trump was inevitable.
Ironically, Hillary Clinton and our democracy was saved by the fact that Donald is a sexual predatory as well as creep. Perhaps, it will give us time to straighten things out, so we won’t see another version of Trump in our lifetimes.
Charmed Baryons says
Excellent article Nick, and very insightful w/ regards to the way this comment crosses the line when so many others fall just short. My father is one of these men. He considers himself a god-fearing man who’s honor bound to protect his family. Although capable of “locker room” banter like any man, he simply would never cross that line you illuminated so well in this article, that wives and daughters are sacred, off limits for the bro’s -and they see in Trump a “bro” who can finally say to Hillary what they want to say (both because of her actual behavior and record, but also because of the archetypal fears brought to the surface when face with the increasingly likely reality of a female POTUS) and shake up the system. These blokes, as you put it, simply can’t risk appearing to other like minded men, their circle, to allow this. It’s bad for business and the tribe all around.