“Politicians shouldn’t be judged based on their sex lives” one of my guy friends told me after the (first) Anthony Weiner sexting scandal. “They should only be judged on their policies.”
There might be something there. I’m assuming that’s how Republicans who plan to vote for Trump feel about their candidate: that he should be judged based on his promise to cut the business tax rate to 15 percent, not on his 2005 comments boasting that he can do “anything” he wants to women, on the basis of his celebrity, including “grab(bing) them (sic) by the pussy.”
One could argue that there’s even something noble about being so attached to ideals of economic or social policy that you’re willing to elect someone who is so deplorable that they would brag about committing sexual assault.
There is a definite idealist sentiment to separating a candidate from their sexual history, and (one could argue) a moral one as well.
Imagine for a moment how satisfying it would be for queer candidates to have their queerness be a non-issue for their election campaigns or for an otherwise qualified political candidate to not have to respond to their husband’s sex scandals from nearly 20 years ago.
yes, my allusions are very subtle. I’m being subtle here.
But as much as I’d find a purely policy-based election refreshing, I personally don’t believe it is the appropriate response to modern democracy.
When (the married, former congressman) Anthony Weiner was exposed (pun intended) as sending sexually explicit texts and messages to “about six” women, including a 21-year-old college student in 2011, I argued that his mass sexting could be cause to question his policies on net neutrality, sexual harassment and the sexual exploitation referred to as “revenge porn,” even if he says nothing of these things within his official platform.
Similarly, The Donald’s actions have created a perceived platform as well — one that considers menstruation more repulsive than rape and sexual harassment the onus of the victim. At present, his official platform fails to mention rape even once. Would it be difficult to believe during his presidency that he will be less of an ally to victims of sexual violence? Would it be difficult to believe he would dismantle what limited structures are in place to protect those who have experienced harm or those structures meant to penalize those who have committed harm?
Additionally, if Trump is elected, (he has about a 16 percent chance according to political statistician Nate Silver — the same probability that in one roll of a fair six-sided die the die will land on a two) a full generation of young Americans will internalize that men can assault women, brag openly about it and remain just as popular as before.
So I don’t want someone accused of raping a thirteen year old/someone whose wife accused him of raping her/someone who was recorded on a bus with Billy Bush bragging about assaulting women to be president, but I desperately don’t want men around men — at Brown or elsewhere — to think they can assault me and face no repercussions for it. In my (entirely non-expert) opinion, a Trump presidency doesn’t need to repeal any legislation on the criminalization of sexual assault to make rapists feel more comfortable assaulting others or to make the assaulted feel less comfortable speaking out about their experiences. Society’s tabulated indifference to Trump’s actions will do that the moment he is elected president.
Even though neither of these concerns are based in Trump’s proposed policies, my feelings have most definitely impacted my ability to even consider voting for Trump. In fact, I’d feel uncomfortable voting for Trump no matter what policies he stood for, which seems almost anti-democratic when spelled out.
I am thoroughly swayed by my knowledge of Trump’s sexual history. Specifically, his treatment of women and his failure to redeem himself for it have forever sullied him as a candidate for me. This is an extreme case of a candidate’s sexual history being marched out during an election, but as (hopefully) the logical extreme, Trump serves as a philosophical litmus test:
Should we be able to judge politicians on their sex lives? Or should we judge them on their policies alone?
You know my vote. What’s yours?