This election cycle has been revolting – no one should deny that. As candidates sprint into the fateful last weeks of their campaigns, it is perfectly natural that mud be thrown. That being said, the accusations and bombshells strewn about in this 2016 election have made things like LBJ’s infamously incendiary “Daisy Girl” ads look tame. Undoubtedly, the most unsettling attacks (launched by both sides) make attempts to use sexual assault allegations as political fodder: the left brings forth women with claims against Donald Trump, and Trump shoots right back with the allegations made against Bill Clinton. The fact that we have two nominees so closely related to sexual assault scandals is horrifying, but the way both sides appropriate such accusations to suit their respective agendas is perhaps even more disturbing.
Three weeks ago, a video of Donald Trump making lewd and sexually coercive comments was released by The Washington Post and the floodgates for such material were opened. Within the following weeks, sixteen women came forward with allegations of sexual assault and as time passed, the comments about Trump became exponentially more vicious. Now to be clear, Trump deserves to be absolutely exonerated by anyone with a pen or keyboard, and to lose support in light of the allegations against him.
What became unacceptable, however, was the Democrat narrative that “since Trump is a disgusting human being, the rest of the Republican party condones his actions!” Such a thought process is facile, dishonest and disrespectful to victims of sexual assault. The Republican party abhors the actions of Donald Trump and recognizes that, at this point, Trump is dead weight in their down-ballot struggle to maintain a Congressional majority.
On the other side of the aisle, Bill Clinton is an anchor tied around Hillary’s neck. She knows he had extramarital affairs. She knows the accusations of Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and Kathy Shelton. She knows this is Trump’s go-to response when confronted with his own allegations. And being a rational adult, she would have to reason that, given the density of these claims, at least some of them are probably accurate. After all, the exact same logic is used against Trump. Knowing all of this, the long-time Republican initiative to paint Hillary and her compatriots as condoning the actions of Bill Clinton is equally as facile, dishonest and disrespectful.
There are, of course, individual entities on both sides willing to look past these transgressions – and both parties have done their best to mitigate the damage – but the sentiment of a morally bereft few does not define that of the whole, and saving face is not nearly the same as promoting sexual misconduct. No one wants either of these two men, or the accusations against them, in their party. No one is condoning them, and if given the choice, I imagine almost anyone in their party’s leadership would excise Bill Clinton or Donald Trump tomorrow. Claiming otherwise is a political pirouette at the expense of the women who had their lives irrevocably shaken by sexual assault. Mud-slinging is perfectly acceptable, but making legitimate victims the object of electoral warfare is repugnant.