My news feed over the last few days has vacillated between frustrating to comical. Between tragic to oblivious. Between…well, you get the picture.
The turmoil? Republican Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump’s remarks about a married woman he wanted to seduce caught on a hot mic eleven years ago.
As this issue has unfolded, I’ve watched with amusement as people who already left the party to throw their weight and effort behind an unserious third-party challenger jump on board the rafts of glass houses full of self-identified Republicans tripping over themselves to throw their stones at Trump. Sadly, a number of these people were arguably in a position to actually demand changes in the party governance which might have made a Trump candidacy a bad joke unable to advance beyond the primary season, but maintaining the integrity of their own primaries by keeping them closed was as horrifying to many of these same people as opposing the crony capitalism which has blossomed in recent years. Others are people who have hobbies and interests which mirror some of Mr. Trump’s more prurient proclivities, but have lacked either the opportunity or the courage to pursue them with equal dedication. Regardless of which camp all the now mortified individuals now fall, they are share the same condition: They all either knew or should have known who Donald Trump is.
And as I watch them all try to distance themselves from the spectacle that the media has dutifully turned him into for this, I’m trying very hard to not say that Bill Clinton was right.
In 1992, Bill Clinton went on record as saying that “Character does not matter.” As much as the idea distresses me, I’ve come to the conclusion that he was correct, based on empirical evidence.
If character mattered, Bill Clinton’s impeachment wouldn’t have happened, because his past with women, which was made clear to the American electorate, would have prevented him from being elected in the first place.
If character mattered, Bill Clinton would have resigned, rather than been impeached.
If character mattered, Bill Clinton’s impeachment would have ended with Al Gore becoming President.
If character mattered, Teddy Kennedy would have lost his election after Chappaquiddick if he had the nerve to run in the first place.
If character mattered, Maxine Waters’ conflicts of interest, and those of Nancy Pelosi would have ended in discipline from ethics investigations, and them choosing not to run for re-election after.
If character mattered, John Conyers would have been back in Detroit decades ago, bumming dimes from bypassers on the street for his next bottle of Ripple.
If character mattered, Alan Grayson would have been prosecuted, rather than elected.
If character mattered, Tim Geithner never would have been the Secretary of the Treasury, and Hilda Solis never would have been the Secretary of Labor.
If character mattered, Mitt Romney would be running for his second term.
If character mattered, the RNC would have someone…anyone else as their standard-bearer in this election.
If character mattered, then there would be no shortage of Democrats telling Hillary Clinton that she needs to shut her mouth and not comment how Trump treats women.
The uncomfortable truth is this: While character SHOULD matter, it doesn’t…at least not to Democrats, because the only way that anyone could turn a blind eye to the corruption and immorality that the party and its various candidates are rife with is if character doesn’t matter. Yet they successfully use their compromised position to their advantage. It’s easy to be cynical, and reject morality for yourself, but use it as a cudgel against other flawed human beings. And proving themselves to be the party of stupid, the Republicans inevitably retreat with their tails between their legs when this cynical strategy is employed.
I’m sure that some of you are reading this, and screaming obscenities at me already about my “defense” of Trump. Make no mistake. I don’t defend him. But I do note that he has enjoyed an unusual degree of success at simply ignoring previous attempts to cow him for things he has said and done, such attempts being of a kind that would have more traditional GOP candidates falling all over themselves, apologizing profusely in the pursuit of a respect, or even adoration that not quite half of the population has been conditioned to not give them, simply because they purport to represent the Republican Party. In my own more cynical moments, I allow myself to believe that this is precisely why he is the Republican standard-bearer, and it completes my break with the Republican Party, which could have enjoyed a well-deserved loyalty from a solid constituency had it actually made a stand on issues, including character issues, not because they believed they could win, but because it mattered. Instead, with a handful of exceptions, they frittered away these opportunities, and joined their morally rudderless opponents in openly mocking and ridiculing their own number who chose to fight the fights that mattered.
And now, as I watch the rats scurrying through the hawser holes of their sinking ship, in search of some sort of political cover, I want to scream “OWN IT, YOU FAITHLESS S.O.B.S.! You made your choice. You took this snake to your bosom, knowing it was a snake!”
No matter who wins in November, America lost.
If Hillary Clinton wins, we have lost the rule of law, and the countless benefits and blessings of residing in a republic.
Donald Trump wins, we lose our self-respect, and maybe our soul.
I find either choice spiritually damning, so I fall back on the next priority: Will we remain a nation of laws?
I only hope that if Trump loses, we are finally rid of the Republican Party, and can build something in its place that values liberty, freedom, integrity, and can actually communicate conservative principles to voters, and then LIVE them in office.