observations and opinion
In the heated immediate aftermath of the Trump Tapes revelation, a few Republican grandees have called out for Trump to quit the nomination. A few more have withdrawn their endorsements and promise to write in the name of some suitable candidate (who? Ronald Reagan?). None has said they’ll vote for Clinton.
But what about Republican voters? What do they think? According to Politico, which rushed into the field with an instant poll, citizens supporting Trump have a slightly different reaction. They don’t give a damn.
Politico says (go here for the gory details) that three quarters of Republicans want the party to continue supporting Trump’s candidacy. A grand total of 12% of Republican males – and 13% of Republican females – say that Trump should renounce the nomination and skulk away.
This is kind of interesting. About eight Republicans in ten think that admitting to (boasting about, actually) the sexual assault of women, does not disqualify a man from being President of the United States. They may be a little uncomfortable with his small-time gangsta lingo (“grab her pussy” etc) but hey, he’s still the man for the job.
Presuming the Politico poll isn’t some crazy outlier result (it probably is not), then what do we make of the widespread view among American Republicans that Trump’s conduct is okay? The media will talk about it in horse race terms, chattering about how GOP leaders will inevitably be scared and swayed by their voters and so will fall into line behind, or slightly to the side of, Trump for the final four weeks of the campaign. That’s likely true (shameful, but no more shameful than what they’ve done all along).
A deeper look at this might probe the outer limits of crazy partisanship. Republican voters are so deeply dyed red that they can no longer see reality, they deny facts, they decry or doubt anything a Democrat says, etc etc. That is probably true, but of course, any such analysis of the GOP will inspire the inevitable “the Democrats are the same” discussion. Which might have an element of truth in it but which will, in this case, totally miss the point.
The point being that the views held by Mr. Trump, and the conduct it inspires, is not exceptional among Republicans. Trump acts and talks as if women were objects, inferiors, slaves, garbage to be disposed of after being used-up. It reflects in spirit, if not words, a fundamental message of much Republican policy.
Do Republicans call for pay equity? No. Are Republicans seriously supportive of tackling male violence against women? No. Can you name any reform measures which have, in the last 20 or 30 years, enjoyed substantial Republican support? No. Most powerfully and tellingly, do Republicans support the right of women to control their own bodies? Of course not. The central tenet of modern Republican ideology is outright hostility to the rights of women.
So when Donald Trump boasts about grabbing the vagina of a woman, or kisses young models in his employ, or wanders into their change rooms because he “owns the pageant” or agrees that his own daughter is a “piece of ass”, or does whatever he wants, because he is famous, is he saying anything inconsistent with the beliefs of the Republican Party or its supporters? No he is not.
Not even the women who call themselves Republicans care about this. They don’t respect their own rights or those of other women. They are exactly NO BETTER than Republican men in this regard.
That is a grim fact. It is a hard truth to say, even for someone who is not a Republican. But a fair assessment of the GOP is that it (and its members) are indeed, the party that FOX News built. Trump’s assault on women is just another Republican assault on women. “Grab them by the pussy” has been Republican policy for decades now.