We can thank the 2016 election for some of the political mess we’re in at the moment.
No, I’m not talking about the lack of accomplishment in Congress. I’m talking about an environment where sexual misconduct and predation is glossed over in favor of tribal politics. The tendency to do this is worse than ever, and our collective experience with Donald J. Trump is where it all began.
Surprisingly, the GOP didn’t used to be like this, even as recently as a few years ago. But something happened as we came nearer to the start of the 2016 campaign, and its name was desperation.
During the two-term presidency of Barack Obama, the United States morphed into its current self where social justice activism, safe spaces, and “everything is offensive” rule the day. It’s a troubling, unsustainable reality where feelings – not facts – determine the next step.
While it’s understandable that many in the electorate wanted a change, it’s unfortunate that shoving principles aside to get said change was and continues to be palatable.
In the midst of the presidential campaign, we learned much about the past behavior of then-candidate Donald Trump. When you combined his past with his penchant for the inappropriate and downright unacceptable in the present, he became a candidate that I, and many others, could not support. My decision on November 8, 2016 to vote for someone besides a major party candidate is one that I still do not regret.
Most voters won’t forget that Access Hollywood video where we heard Trump talk about forcing himself upon women and grabbing them by their genitals all because “when you’re a star, they let you do it.”
To some, this was the last straw. There was no way they could support a man whose celebrity became a “get out of jail free” card when it came to one-sided sexual gratification. It was inexcusable. To others, it was brushed off as merely another unfortunate statement from an imperfect man without a filter.
After all, the Supreme Court vacancy is all that mattered!
Trump himself has been the recipient of numerous sexual misconduct allegations. Given his own words on that video and statements on a radio show that avoiding STDs has been his “personal Vietnam”, it’s more than clear that he is not a stand-up guy whose moral compass is aligned. He has shown himself to be very disrespectful to women both on the campaign trail (Carly Fiorina) and while president (Mika Brzezinski).
I say all these things to not only re-establish Trump’s very questionable behavior but to remind us that voters looked past all of this in favor of supporting the Republican candidate. Because the GOP just had to win, and winning was more important than a principled stance against an unfit man.
It is this environment in which the current excuses for Roy Moore are born. Let’s be clear: the accusations against Roy Moore may or may not be true. But as David French of National Review reminds us, conservatives should not so readily dismiss them.
Conservatives, be careful. Don’t dismiss the claims. While I don’t know if the allegations are true, I’m deeply troubled on a number of grounds.
We are in the midst of a unique and important national moment. Each day seems to bring a new story of yet another powerful person facing a string of accusations. While there is a danger of a witch hunt, the presence of multiple claims of misconduct from multiple sources should always make us pause — regardless of whether the alleged abuser comes from the Left or the Right. It’s a moral imperative that we not determine the veracity of the allegations by the ideology of the accused.
Furthermore, Moore was a problem before Thursday’s news drop.
Roy Moore is a dangerous man who never should have received the GOP nomination. Republican primary voters selected as their champion a person who seeks to suppress the civil rights of his fellow citizens and defies the law whenever it suits his ideological and political purposes. Even before today’s allegations, he was unfit to be a United States senator. Now the question is whether he’s dangerous, unfit, and vile.
In the aftermath of the allegations against Moore, I’ve seen the following excuses:
“It happened several decades ago. Is it even relevant anymore?”
“Things were much different back then…”
“Moore doesn’t have a history of this type of behavior.”
And those are just a few. Jennifer Van Laar wrote about the Alabama state auditor’s religious-based rationalization here. Jon Street discussed an Alabama GOP chair’s “sick defense” in this piece.
Again, the allegations against Moore may be proven false. Whether they are true or not, the insta-excuses are extremely disturbing and speak to the tribalism that has taken hold of too many on the Right. I am glad to have left that tribe.
Do the people offering justifications for Moore’s possible behavior do the same for the many Hollywood types who have been accused of sexual misconduct? Do they make similar arguments when a Democrat is said to have acted in a similarly egregious fashion?
No. Because of politics. And when you replace principles with politics you get Donald Trump.
The nomination of Trump and continued excuses for his behavior make rationalizing away what Roy Moore may have done an easy, almost natural thing to do. It doesn’t seem foreign because the GOP as a whole has spent more than a year doing just that.
During a time when allegations of sexual assault and harassment against public figures are at an all-time high, it is important to confirm these claims. However, it is just as important to take them seriously and not be quick to brush them off in favor of an election hope.
I wouldn’t put too much faith in the latter occurring, though, and we can thank the Trump Era for that.