This article was originally going to defend, at least partially, Donald Trump and his alleged nonpayment of taxes. I was going to argue that there is nothing scandalous about paying no more in taxes than one is legally obligated to pay. If the tax code has bad loopholes (which it does), the fault should belong with the people who wrote the tax code, or at least lobbied for those loopholes, rather than people who used them to keep more of their own money. Of course, this does not mean Trump would be immune to all tax related criticism. His refusal to release his tax returns is quite troubling, to put it mildly. His complaints about others not paying taxes would indeed be extremely hypocritical if the allegations against him are true. However, even with people as disagreeable as Trump, it is important to speak out against unfair allegations, especially when there is so much legitimate material for criticism.
That was going to be the subject of this article, but then a certain video was released on Friday. I couldn’t write an article even partially defending Trump with the video overshadowing it.
For those whose blissful ignorance is to be envied, the tape had audio of Trump discussing a subject that has been a problem in his campaign at least since Megyn Kelly asked him about it during the first presidential debate of this election: women. The tape begins with Trump talking about how he tried to seduce a married woman. Regarding how he acts around beautiful women, he said “I just start kissing them… I don’t even wait.” While that behavior might normally be frowned upon, Trump further explained that “when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything,” including apparently grabbing their vulva (he used a different word). Also, for the record, the video took place soon after Trump had married Melania, his third wife.
The video rightfully caused a major backlash. Paul Ryan uninvited Trump to an event in Wisconsin for Saturday the 8th. Hugh Hewitt, a conservative radio host who described himself as Switzerland during the primaries, called on Trump to drop out. Numerous elected officials, not counting those who were already NeverTrumpers, have either called on Trump to drop out or announced that they cannot vote for him. As of this writing, they include senators Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire), John Thune (South Dakota), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Mark Kirk (Illinois), Deb Fischer (Nebraska), Cory Gardner (Colorado), John McCain (Arizona) and Mike Crapo (Idaho). Joe Heck, who is running for the Senate in Nevada, is another. Many House members and governors have also expressed the same sentiment.
It’s about time that so many public officials withdraw their support. Trump has repeatedly made statements unworthy of being a major party nominee for the state legislature, let alone President of the United States. However, something is different this time. For one thing, the audio from the video is one of the worst things to come out about Trump this election cycle. It clearly shows what a crass, pathetic human being Donald Trump is. And I do mean that. A “man” who talks about his efforts to commit adultery, objectifies women, and worst of all, normalizes sexual assault, is undeserving of admiration, no matter how great his business dealings might be.
This time is also different because of the practical situation. The election is less than a month away, and this is probably not the worst thing that will come out before election day. Donald Trump’s already slim chances of winning the presidency are now thinner still. It’s one thing to lose one’s moral center in order to defeat Hillary Clinton, but what is the advantage of losing the moral high ground in order to back a loser?
While the number of officials who are finally rejecting Trump is impressive, it is still far too small. Paul Ryan has not actually announced that he is un-endorsing Trump. Neither has Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz. That is a great disappointment from some of the most high profile Republicans in the country. It has always been clear that Trump is unfit to be the President of the United States, and now it is clearer than ever. For our “leaders” not to say so is a neglect of duties and moral cowardice.
Surely at this point some readers are still thinking “but the Clintons!” Trump’s supporters have even brought up Bill Clinton’s sexual history. Yes, Bill Clinton is a disgusting human being who has been accused of rape or sexual assault by at least two women, who has committed adultery more than once and most famously who had a sexual relationship as president with an intern who was twenty-seven years his junior. And yes, Hillary Clinton is corrupt, a liar and hardly kept the standard that “every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, and supported” when it came to her husband’s accusers.
I am not asking people to support the Clintons, though. While I would argue that Clinton would be less awful than Trump, as a resident of Oklahoma whose vote does not matter anyway, I won’t be voting for her. What I am arguing is that Trump himself is completely unqualified and morally unworthy of support. His opponent and her spouse being awful people does not change that.
The issue for Republicans now is whether or not to support someone so unqualified and morally revolting who won’t win anyway. Republicans who continue to support Trump must understand that if they do so, they are arguing that an adulterer who objectifies women and who normalizes sexual assault deserves to lead the United States.