Creating a scandal that surprised no one, Access Hollywood tapes from 2005 released on Friday recorded Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump engaging in a lewd and repulsive discussion about his past sexual advances toward women. In the recording, Trump says, “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them,” and “And when you’re a star, they let you do it… You can do anything… Grab them by the p-ssy.”
For obvious reasons, numerous top Republicans such as Sen. John McCain have subsequently rebuked Trump. Some like Jon Huntsman and Condoleezza Rice have called for him to drop out of the race entirely. Rice wrote on Facebook, “Enough! Donald Trump should not be President. He should withdraw. As a Republican, I hope to support someone who has the dignity and stature to run for the highest office in the greatest democracy on earth.” In the midst of these sharp criticisms, Trump has remained defiant. He said, “No, I’m not quitting. I have tremendous support.” He expressed that he would not let down the people who supported him and, perhaps, he shouldn’t. This recent controversy is certainly not the first time Trump has said something terribly offensive. He has made extremely disrespectful comments many times, almost too many to count, and his supporters have consistently remained loyal. However, Trump’s continued campaign still serves a purpose: to show that his brand of hate cannot win in America.
While members of the Republican elite may define Trump’s recorded comments as the tipping point, this latest revelation likely does little to shake the fundamental reasons Trump’s supporters like him. Dan Pfeffier, former communications director under President Barack Obama, tweeted: “I have heard dozens of GOP elites rescind their support of Trump over these comments, but have yet to hear an anecdote of a voter doing so.” No establishment candidate’s statement or recanted endorsement will erode passion for Trump among those dedicated to him and who despise that very establishment.
Trump’s supporters voted for him in the midst of numerous scandals and derogatory comments. They had no illusions about who he is, and they still chose him. In The New York Times, Andrew Rosenthal wrote of the recently released recording: “it showed us nothing new about Trump. He’s been insulting women all year, along with Mexican immigrants, Muslims, gay Americans and people with disabilities.” Trump’s supporters feel that he best represents their concerns and these sorts of highly outrageous comments have not and will not deter their loyalty. This is their candidate of choice and he has every right to stay in the race, not only for himself but also for the many Americans who voted for him. However, these staunch loyalists alone will likely not win him the presidency.
McCain said that Trump “alone bears the burden of his conduct and alone should suffer the consequences.” Those consequences should be a harsh loss against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. He should absolutely stay in the race, not because he is a legitimate candidate, but just in order to lose. To eradicate Trump and his brand of detestable politics, Trump must not just be defeated, but definitively so. Let him limp to Election Day battered by the press and without the support of most of his party leaders. He should stay in and hopefully get shellacked on Election Day. If Trump were to drop out of the race, questions could linger over his potential success or what could have been. Clinton resolutely defeating Trump at the ballot box is the only way to soundly rebuke him, his comments, and his detestable type of politics.
Christina Wilkes is a senior majoring in political science and communication.
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