Last Thursday First Lady Michelle Obama delivered an emotional rebuke to Republican Party nominee Donald Trump after sexually aggressive comments he made in 2005 surfaced on an open-mic Access Hollywood video. The week following the tape’s release nine women came forward telling of incidents with Mr. Trump that mirrored the behavior he bragged about 11 years before.
Mr. Trump has vehemently denied his accuser’s allegations, said his 2005 comments were just “locker room talk”, and then called the uproar that followed part of a sinister news media led conspiracy meant to take down his insurgent presidential bid. His rabid followers began sharpening pitchforks and re-tarring their torches, but many on both sides of the aisle were deeply offended by the grabber in chief’s words, denials, and conclusions.
First Lady Michelle Obama‘s voice broke several times during the speech she delivered in New Hampshire as she categorized Mr. Trump’s conversation with Billy Bush in 2005 as “hurtful, hateful language.”
“Language that has been painful for so many of us,” she continued. “Not just as women, but as parents trying to protect our children and raise them to be caring, respectful adults. And as citizens who think our nation’s leaders should meet basic standards of human decency…It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn’t have predicted.”
There is no doubt the First Lady was deeply troubled by Citizen Trump, as she probably has been since he first championed the Birther issue that questioned her husband’s legitimacy as president. But while it is easy to puncture the gilded pomposity of a man born of great wealth but an equal dearth of couth, perhaps Mrs. Obama knows now how the right-to-life movement feels about abortion and what it represents to their closely held beliefs. Is it happenstance alone that the coarsening of American culture has coincided, not just with the emergence of a man like Trump, but with the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 (not to mention Watergate and the Vietnam War)?
So let’s all open our eyes and look around. There is more than one point of view. And if you are talking about equivalency, there are many who (evidently) would still take a loud-mouth lout who pushes himself on women, but who represents fundamental political change, over a status-quo candidate who “dissembles on an Olympian level”, “condones infanticide”, and enables her husband to push himself on women, too, all while serving as poster girl for the same/old, same/old.
Of course, Mr. Trump doesn’t personally care about any of it, bloviator in chief that he is. Recall that the New York real estate mogul once professed to liking the Clintons, said Hillary would actually make a good president, and represented himself as pro-choice. So, please, let’s not kid ourselves. It’s not like this guy just saw the light. What he saw was the stuffed-crust Republican primary field and the bright, shiny mirror that the run for office presented to his narcissistic needs.
But though Trump may not be the right messenger, that does not negate the point of his message, nor the frustrations felt by a large slice of American citizenry for whom the direction of the country is profoundly unsettling. That is the fault-line that needs to be bridged rather than widened.
The question, then, is not who might be a better choice in this 2016 election, rather, where is our unifying voice? Where is our Nelson Mandela? It sure isn’t Donald Trump, but it’s just as likely not Hillary Clinton either.
Watch out America. 2016 is a profoundly important time. And it isn’t the wall on the Mexican border that should be your #1 concern. After decades of progress in tearing down the walls of intolerance that were a part of our original design, we have begun to erect newer ones of embittered belief that may not come down so easily once they’ve been cemented in place.