So Donald Trump has had yet another instance of, “Good God, did he really say that?”
In case you somehow missed it, there was recently a tape released from 11 years ago of the Republican nominee speaking on a hot mic about a woman (she is not named in the recording). Among other things, he said that he just kissed, he didn’t wait, and if you’re attracted to a woman, you should just “grab them by the pussy.”
I have seen a number of people speak out against this latest obscenity, for which I am grateful. Some Republicans have pulled their support for him, citing this as the tipping point. Both Paul Ryan and Reince Priebus have called out his comments, though neither have pulled their endorsements.
As I scroll through my Facebook feed, a lot of those calling out his remarks are prefacing their comments with, “This isn’t political.” I understand why they want to do this. Stepping into a political firestorm like we’ve seen this election is frightening. We’ve seen actual violence between people who disagree, so suggesting that you’re picking sides is scary. And most of us don’t want to fight with our friends, so we soft pedal our views a little bit, casting them in the best light we can.
But here’s the thing. Donald Trump is running for president of the United States of America. He is seeking the highest office in this country. He wants to be the face of our country to the rest of the world and for the people living here.
Two years ago, speaking out against his words and actions toward the disabled and women and immigrants and people of color and the LGBTQ community wouldn’t have been political. Then you could just shake your head at his deplorable deeds and remind people that we should be better than this just as people. We could mourn the rise and success of someone who thinks so little of so many, but you’d be right. It wouldn’t be political.
But there’s no way to separate that out now. If someone is a politician, their actions and the acceptance or condemnation of those actions are political.
To say it’s not political is to say that politics aren’t influenced by behavior. But we know better.
A person who believes that it’s okay to sexually assault women will not work to enact laws that protect women from sexual assault or that punish those who perpetrate assaults.
A person who believes that it is acceptable to mock the disabled will not work to protect the rights of the disabled in the workplace.
A person who chooses a running mate who enacted one of the first laws allowing people to discriminate against LGBTQ people will not work to ensure that strides made in the community will be maintained.
A person who calls all Mexicans rapists and demands the halt of immigrants who practice a particular religion will not work to ensure that our country helps those who want a better life.
A person who says that the only way to lower crime is to enact racist, unconstitutional policies like stop and frisk will not work to bring justice to black and brown communities that are crying for safety.
His words and behavior give us a pretty clear picture of his potential governance. So calling out his words and behavior is a political move. Talking about the behavior of a candidate is talking about their politics.
More importantly, however, is that you recognize that your actions are political as well. If you say that this kind of behavior can’t stand and then vote for this candidate anyway, you are absolutely saying that this kind of behavior CAN stand. You are saying that xenophobia and racism and sexism and misogyny are bad, but they aren’t that bad.
If we’re talking about politicians, our words are political. Let’s just be honest about what our politics stand for when it counts.