Originally Published in The Michigan Daily
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If you haven’t heard, Donald Trump is in a lot of hot water. In a video recording from 2005 released on Friday by The Washington Post, Mr. Trump is recorded making crude and sexist remarks regarding women. Last night, Trump said, “Certainly I’m not proud of it. But this is locker room talk.”
What Trump refers to as locker room talk is an expansion of his already atrociously long list of sexist statements. The 2005 recording is filled with statements like “I did try and f— her. She was married” and “When you’re a star, they let you do … anything. Grab them by the p—-. You can do anything.”
Such maliciously prejudiced language isn’t just meaningless and excusable by the likes of Trump. It is a glimpse into the future of possible intolerant and undemocratic policies. We as a nation must try our hardest to avoid these. Voter registration closes on Oct. 11, so if you can vote, don’t waste the opportunity and register to vote here.
During the second presidential debate Sunday night, moderator Anderson Cooper called the 2005 tape “the single most talked about story of the entire 2016 (cycle) on Facebook.” But Trump is quick to deflect the magnitude of the issue by claiming that his 11-year-old words do not reflect him as a person. This raises the question: Will Trump’s words today carry any weight 11 years down the road? Who is the real Trump if his words can’t speak for him?
When Cooper directly questioned Donald Trump about committing sexual assault, he instantly denied such actions, but immediately changed the subject to how he plans to “make America safe again,” through tighter border control. How does the hanging-by-a-thread GOP nominee expect Americans to feel safe when he sexualizes and objectifies half the population? Whether Trump likes it or not, his “locker room” rhetoric normalizes sexual assault and humanizes assailants. In essence, Trump’s speech in the video is the exact opposite of his slogans of safety and greatness.
To shine a different light on Trump’s sexist rhetoric, let’s take an example on a gun range. A few hypothetical buddies are out on the theoretical range, holding imaginary guns and joking about how many make-believe people they could kill with their weapons. Is rhetoric like this really harmless? Words that devalue human life are incredibly harmful to society; they numb the empathy of their speakers and listeners. Donald Trump’s words desensitize us.
GOP leaders are finally starting to take note of Mr. Trump’s harmful and divisive rhetoric. A USA TODAY network survey found that more than 30 Republican governors, senators and elected representatives have denounced Trump. The survey found that many GOP leaders are instead opting to write in Trump’s running mate Gov. Mike Pence. This recent development adds to the current tensions between the vice-presidential nominee and Donald Trump. On Saturday, Mike Pence said he “cannot defend” Donald Trump’s sexist and misogynistic comments, claiming that he was offended “as a husband and a father.” How does Trump react? When asked about his running mate’s stance on Syria, he claimed, “He and I haven’t spoken and I disagree.”
Really, Trump? Is your reality so small that there’s not even room for your running mate? I ask the American electorate: Does this look like democracy to you?
Is our democracy one in which we demonize war-fleeing refugees, equating them to the “great Trojan horse?” Is our democracy one in which a politician can threaten to throw their opponent in jail once elected, as Trump did to Hillary Clinton Sunday night? Is our democracy one in which one half of the population should continue to fear sexual assault because of excusable “locker room talk?” This is the democracy Donald Trump wants to create.
“We have a divided nation because of people like her,” Trump claimed. Sorry Donald, but as the only nominee for the presidency of the Divided States of America, the division you see is directly because of people like you.