I am a person of strong opinion about many things. One of those things is politics. I care about elections, and the decisions made by elected officials. I don’t remember ever not caring, since I became aware of the Mondale/Ferraro ticket in 1984. I cared a great deal at seven years old about the possibility of having a woman Vice President. That didn’t happen, but I was hooked. I was devastated when Dukakis lost, and campaigned for Bill Clinton before I could vote. I wept in frustration when Bush the Younger was finally confirmed the winner, and in joy when Obama was. It’s nothing new for me to have strong feelings about an election.
But this election is different. In most elections, I think that if the candidate I like less wins, there may be some policy I don’t agree with for a while, but overall my life and our life as a country isn’t going to change much. This isn’t that kind of election. Trump isn’t that kind of candidate. He has made it clear that if he becomes president, everything will change. And while I don’t believe the president has the power to do all the things he promises to do (which is an argument in itself for why he should not hold the office), I believe him that things will change. Things will change for immigrants and refugees and people who look like they might be, especially those with brown skin or Mexican or Middle Eastern citizenship or Muslim faith. Things will change for the poor, who will have even fewer resources and a smaller safety net. And things will change for women; Trump has made that quite clear. That’s where this one gets personal for me.
Trump says a lot of negative things about a lot of people. He’s talked about kicking out all Muslims, or having them report on each other. He has characterized immigrants as killers and rapists. He apparently can’t talk to a black person without assuming he should be talking about the inner city. I don’t understand how any decent human being can support someone who spews such vitriol against so many people, someone who sounds terrifyingly like Hitler and has promised some eerily similar moves should he be elected. But then, I can wrap my mind at least a little around the fact that a lot of white Americans fear those who are different from them, and that Trump speaks to that fear.
What I cannot grasp even a little bit is how women, or anyone who knows and has even the slightest regard for a woman, can support this person. Trump repeatedly denigrates women for every reason and in every way imaginable. His comments and actions demonstrate that he barely believes that women are human beings. He sees us as objects for men’s pleasure, to be grabbed, groped, bullied, harassed, demeaned, or dismissed as he sees fit. His running mate is less coarse, more polite, but he has routinely enacted policies that repress and restrict women’s rights.
Life under a Trump regime looks pretty nasty for women. In addition to what may change legally, a win for Trump signals that his attitudes toward women are acceptable. In case there isn’t enough violence against women now, the men who perpetrate it will receive the clear message that their behavior is not only fine, it is to be celebrated and rewarded.
So, to my friends who are Trump supporters (if I still have any of you left): if I seem chilly toward you this month, that’s why. I’m trying to be understanding that from your perspective, you’re taking a stance for some part of the GOP platform that is important to you (although for most of you that is your desire to vote strictly anti-abortion, and I’d like to have a chat with you about the meaning of “pro-life”). But I’m having a harder and harder time being sympathetic, because you are preparing to vote for someone who literally does not believe that I am worthy of basic human decency. He doesn’t even believe that I should have the right to be unmolested, to stand in a room without the risk of a stranger grabbing my genitals. So yes, I’m angry about that, and anxious about the election, and I am having very hard time talking to you. His attitudes toward so many groups of people should be enough to disqualify him from being president of our diverse nation, but this one is also personal.