On the Upcoming Presidential Election
I have historically stayed away from political discussions here because my main goal is helping all women stay safe from violence and I can't do that if I alienate a large number of them. It's precisely because I care, though, that I'm speaking out. My hope is that all of you know me well enough, and respect me enough, to know that I have the best of intentions when I ask you seriously to please not vote for Donald Trump.
There are multiple reasons for my stance, and this is a pretty long post! But I hope you'll take the time to read it and at least think about it. As we know from our discussions about how to recognize abusers before getting involved with them, it's not about a single red flag. It's about a pattern of behaviors that allow us to gauge accurately what kind of person we're dealing with.
One thing we know about abusers is that they are masters at blaming everyone else for their own behaviors. If they didn't do well in school, it's because "the teacher was an idiot". If they're having problems at work, it's because "the boss doesn't like him". If he gets a speeding ticket, it's because "the cop just had it in for him". They are always the "victim". There is a consistent refusal to acknowledge their own role in anything. This is something we need to have a few examples of before we know it's a real characteristic of this person and not just a one-time thing.
In the past few years, we have more than enough examples of Trump's refusal to take responsibility for anything. I would challenge anyone reading this to find a single example of Trump saying that the buck stops with him. Find one video clip of him acknowledging a mistake. We have video of him saying, "No, I don't take any responsibility at all" in discussing the Covid-19 outbreak. We saw him blame China. We saw him blame the World Health Organization. We saw him blame Obama, who was out of office for three years already before this virus strain even existed. We watch him say something incorrect during a live briefing, then claim it's fake news. Or that it was out of context. Or that he was "being sarcastic". Never a single, "Oh, I'm sorry, I misspoke there." It's always someone else's fault. And this characteristic goes well beyond just the current Coronavirus pandemic. There is always someone else at fault in Trump's world.
His lack of respect for women is on full display during press briefings. While he says incredibly rude, disrespectful things to any reporter who questions him, we see female reporters being treated with far more animosity. He told a female reporter to "Just relax...keep your voice down". He has a long history of dismissing questions from female reporters by focusing instead on their "tone" or their "attitude", and a lengthy habit of calling women who question him or disagree with him "nasty". Remember that most people tend to be on their best behavior when others are watching them. If you're seeing someone publicly disrespecting people in such an overt way, you can bet he's far worse in private.
The sexism goes far beyond the press room. He told a contestant on The Apprentice "It must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees." He fat-shamed a Miss Universe winner, calling her "Miss Piggy" and an "eating machine". In referring to his 2016 Presidential competitor, Carly Fiorina, he said, "Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that?" He literally called former Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, "honey" and "sweetheart".
Even worse than the blatant sexism is the predatory behavior. I've spent my entire adult life in the violence against women field in one form or another, and I'm comfortable saying it's a topic I'm very knowledgeable about. A man in America has greater odds of being raped by another man than he does of being falsely accused of sexual assault. Being "falsely accused" by two dozen different women is a statistical impossibility. It's ridiculous to even consider, especially when you factor in that he has literally bragged in public about his predatory behavior. The obvious example, of course, is the "grab them by the pussy" comment that was brushed off as standard locker room talk. Upon taking over the Miss USA pageant, he bragged about making "the heels higher and the bathing suits smaller". About the pageants, he told Howard Stern: "I'll go backstage before a show, and everyone's getting dressed and ready and everything else. And, you know, no men are anywhere. And I'm allowed to go in because I'm the owner of the pageant. And therefore I'm inspecting it. You see these incredible looking women. And so I sort of get away with things like that."
Worse still is that he engaged in this same behavior when he was running the Miss Teen USA beauty pageant. He told the girls, some as young as 15, "Don't worry, ladies. I've seen it all before" as they're scrambling to grab their clothes. If you have young girls in your life, think seriously about how you'd feel about some guy in his 60's barging in on them while they're getting dressed. There's simply no way that's acceptable behavior.
There's so much more than just the misogyny, though. There's the almost pathological lying. There's the attempts to defund the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). There's the deliberate erosion of LGBTQ rights. There is the complete lack of empathy. There is the absolute inability to take any form of criticism without lashing out. There are the constant tweets in the middle of the night, railing incoherently at anyone who happens to have disagreed with him that day.
The smartest people in the world are the ones who know what they don't know. They surround themselves by experts, and they listen to those experts. Trump does not have that ability. He views himself as the smartest person in the room, regardless of the topic. Anyone who dares disagree with him gets publicly denigrated and insulted and, if they're in his administration, fired. That's dangerous. It's dangerous for us to be led by someone who believes himself better and smarter than everyone else.
I understand that Biden may not be your favorite. He most definitely is not the one I wanted! But we are at a point right now where we need to consider who is going to do the least amount of harm. While I'm not excited about Biden, he does have experience and understands how the government - and the government's relationships with other countries - work. He listens to the experts around him. It's thanks to Joe Biden that America has the VAWA act at all. And while you may not be excited about the Presidential election, remember that you can still get involved with campaigns for your other local, state, and federal representatives!
I know there's a lot of people who" don't care about politics", and sometimes I wish I didn't! But the reality is we need to care now more than ever. And we need to think about how this election will impact all the members of our society. Thank you for reading a very long post, and as always, I'm interesting in hearing from you.