Watching the American election campaign is like watching not one but a whole series of train wrecks unfold. There’s nothing you can do about it, and there is a good chance you’ll be hit by flying shrapnel… but at least until then, why not enjoy the bizarre spectacle.
Like Mr. Trump describing his admission of regularly committing sexual assault as “locker room talk”.
It made me soul-search a little. Am I being a hypocrite, denouncing Trump? After all, I was a young male once… and I spent some time growing up in a small town in Hungary, surrounded by boys my age for whom crudeness was the norm.
Sure, we engaged in “locker room talk”. We talked about girls. We even talked about their lady parts and what we’d like to do with those. We discussed our sexual fantasies, and we bragged about things that we never actually did.
But I do not recall anyone ever bragging about committing sexual assault. However crude was the language, however much it treated women as mere sexual objects, violence against women was not part of our “locker room talk”.
And that was, well, some 40 years ago. I was in my early teens. Not in may late 50s, and certainly not as a business and community leader, reality TV star, aspiring one day to become president of the United States, and by extension, leader of the free world.
No, Mr. Trump, this is not “locker room talk”. Nor do we have any real reason to believe that what you bragged about was not true. At best, you were bragging about committing sexual assault that you only dreamed of doing; more likely, you made an admission of committing a violent crime.
I have heard women defend Mr. Trump by suggesting that this is normal for men. No, it is not. Crude discussions about females and parts of their anatomy may be, but no, talking about committing sexual assault is not normal for men. I also heard women defend Mr. Trump by suggesting that all this is normal in the world of Fifty Shades of Gray. Well, that’s another reason for me not to read that book.
How Republicans managed to sink this low… Oh, I can take a guess at the possible reasons. The result of extreme partisanship. A political figure that justifies his follower’s racism and xenophobia. Undereducated, underachieving people (mostly middle-aged white men like myself) being told that it’s not their fault after all. (Ironically, the conservative mantra is that we are all responsible for our own lives. Except, I guess, when you are an unsuccessful middle-aged lower-middle-class white man.) Disenchantment with a political elite that is seen as distant and aloof (as if any other kind of elite were possible at the highest level of government in a country of 350 million.)
But whatever the reasons, it is a disgrace. Some Republican politicians are waking up (no doubt worried about their own re-election changes.) But when will Republicans collectively wake up, declare that enough is enough, and return to the land of sanity? If for no other reason, it’s because (judging by his deeds, if not by his words) Mr. Trump is much further away from the pro-life, socially conservative views of most conservatives than even his opponent, Mrs. Clinton.
As for those of us outside the United States, I just hope we get a “leader of the free world” who is not stark raving mad and unhinged.