This past week, revelations were made public concerning Donald Trump’s attitudes towards women and sexual assault. To say that the recorded conversation the GOP nominee had back in 2005 on an Access Hollywood bus contained statements highly inappropriate for anyone, let alone a person aspiring to the highest elected office in the land, would be an understatement. To say that the existence of such a skeleton in the Trump closet is in anyway surprising to any politically aware person not awakening from a Rip Van Winkle nap is a bit far-fetched, however.
Donald Trump said nothing in that conversation that was in anyway out of character given the propensity he has demonstrated for outrageously offensive racist and misogynistic utterances since even before he announced his candidacy last year. That this is seen by many, particularly in GOP circles, as being the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back in derailing Trump’s candidacy is itself verging on lunacy. It takes more than being a natural born American citizen of at least 35 years of age to be fit to occupy the office of President of the United States. Donald Trump does not pass the test. His character – as revealed by statements and actions throughout his life and those aspects of his life he has fought tooth and nail to keep hidden – has demonstrated his unworthiness of the trust he seeks for us to give him by voting for him.
The number of high-ranking Republican officials suddenly outraged into denouncing Trump’s remarks and coming out opposed to his election after previously endorsing him (albeit, in some cases, under considerable duress) makes one wonder what rock these people crawled out from under that they missed witnessing his character flaws for so long. Calls for him to step down as the party nominee have been heard far and wide, loud and clear. Many of the people who have become critical of Trump’s blatant sexism and misogyny are those involved in tight re-election campaigns. Kelly Ayotte, incumbent Republican Senator from NH, mere days after describing Trump as a role model for our youth, announced she would be writing in Mike Pence’s name rather than voting for her party’s nominee for President. House Speaker Paul Ryan disinvited Trump from a joint appearance scheduled to be held in Wisconsin. Other political figures throughout the nation will be doing likewise soon, if they haven’t already. Rats fleeing a sinking ship?
The shear media circus which began Friday concerning the release of this recording by the Washington Post (didn’t know they were a TV outlet, or why NBC didn’t release it first, since they owned it) has been something to behold. Speculation is running rampant that the GOP is searching for a way to convince Trump to drop out, which he seems not inclined to do, at least not yet. Even if he did step down, state ballots have already been printed with him included and early voting has already begun in many states. A mechanism for replacing him (probably with VP nominee, IN governor Mike Pence, who IMO would probably be worse, considering his record a Congressman and Governor) is there, though uncertain, especially as it seems they can’t remove Trump involuntarily.
Tonight’s scheduled town hall style debate between Trump and Clinton will undoubtedly draw huge ratings, despite the scheduling conflict with an NBC NFL Sunday Night Football telecast – if only because of curiosity at what kind of train wreck the Trump campaign has become and uncertainty as to whether he will even participate. For his part, Trump seems to backed into a corner. If his candidacy is to move forward, he has to show up at the debate. How he reacts and what happens then is an open question, given his volatility and unpredictability throughout the campaign season and performance at previous debates.
Naturally, other GOP candidates down ballot of the Presidential contest are concerned with how all this will affect their prospects next month. How will the RNC, Senate and House GOP campaign committees react to the perceived implosion of the presidential campaign? How will voters react? Such questions will undoubtedly have a major impact on media coverage before, during and after this debate. The main issue of this campaign has become Donald Trump and his fitness, or lack thereof, to be President of the USA. Discussion of other extremely important issues will remain very much in the background if they are even broached at all. Once again, the American people will be treated to more of a media carnival than a political campaign seeking to inform us of how the candidates will deal with domestic and foreign policy issues affecting both our everyday lives and the future of the nation and world at large.
From the time when Donald Trump first started making a big deal about his false birther conspiracy theory, if not even before that, most people who even gave it a thought must have known that Donald Trump is not now nor ever has been fit to serve as President of this country. He flat out lies and constructs his own facts and reality out of thin air more readily than just about any politician I’ve been subjected to in my lifetime. Even fact checkers and journalists interviewing him have started pointing this out. Many don’t even think he is very good at what he prides himself of being an expert at – running a business empire. He has done nothing in the intervening years of his public career to persuade most Americans otherwise – a fact borne out in a multitude of polls even before this latest development.
As to the effect all this will have on tonight’s debate, most will know the answer to that before they read this, so any speculation on my part would be pointless. How various pro- and anti-Trump forces will react with the passage of time between now and November 8th is also difficult to forecast, but I doubt it bodes well for his prospects come election day. There’s still almost a month to go, and many more revelations about Trump and Clinton are likely to provide us with more than enough other “October Surprises” to last a lifetime. What news comes out as a result of future computer system hacks and other strategic information leaks may make both major candidates seem unelectable, yet one will most likely ultimately prevail.
I urge folks to try to remain focused on the fact that other very important races are also being decided, contests that collectively are just as important to the ability of our federal, state and local governments to do their jobs and protect our interests as the Presidential election. Clinton will be no more able to pursue enacting the platform passed by the Democratic National Convention with a gridlocked obstructionist Congress than Obama has been. Trump or Pence or some other even worse Republican President, with a Congress strongly dominated by Republicans, would be capable of quickly undoing the positive accomplishments of the present administration and wreaking havoc on the American people as a whole that would make the disaster caused by many Tea Party state administrations pale in comparison.
Don’t be satisfied simply to avoid the prospect of a Trump Presidency. Elect a Congress that will move this country in a more progressive direction – despite attempts by some to move us back to the nineteenth century both economically and politically. Make Congress and state legislatures constructive and productive rather than destructive and obstructive as we have witnessed of late. Fight to stop the fighting – both home and abroad. Our tax dollars need to be spent more wisely than perpetuating murderous wars on everything from terror to drugs to women’s, minority and LGBTQ rights. Export more life-enhancing goods and services and fewer weapons designed to kill.
We need to demand that our politicians and corporations start to accurately report on what they are doing for us instead of just doing stuff to us that serves the few too well and costs the many far too much. Presidential campaigns should be about building a better world, not merely avoiding a catastrophe. The candidates should have been vetted much more thoroughly by now than has been the case. The GOP process left us with Trump. Don’t reward that sort of incompetence with the West Wing as a reality show and a government that further enriches the undeserving rich while further impoverishing the rest. We deserve for the next four years to be a reprieve from the last six, not a continuation of it or worse.