We are one week from the US presidential election and Hillary Clinton has lost her once-comfortable lead over Donald Trump. An ABC poll published yesterday actually shows him leading for the first time in six months. To put not too fine a point on it, I, like everyone else I know, am crapping myself that Trump will win the vote and send us all to hell in a handcart. The almost unanimously anti-Trump press is in meltdown, desperately grasping for answers in what appears to be a senseless predicament, and all most of them can come up with is that Hillary Clinton as a person is unlikeable, that it may have been deeply unwise for the Democrats to select one of the most qualified and experienced candidates in political history when so many Americans plain can’t stand her. What America’s left needed, they (who once scoffed at the possibility that Trump might beat her) say, was a sure-fire crowdpleaser to stop the Western world from falling into the abyss.
Despite the fact that Clinton has persistently been found by objective fact-checking authorities to be the most honest candidate by some distance (Trump scores around three per cent for truthfulness), lots of Americans just don’t trust her. Even committed Democrats, it seems, would often prefer to vote for Trump than for the reviled Clinton, because, as obnoxious, sexist, racist and wholly unqualified as Trump demonstrably is, he represents “the lesser of two evils”. As Britons, we hear this unfathomable description of Trump constantly and stare at the telly in confused disbelief.
To put that into perspective, Lesser Of Two Evils Donald Trump is – almost immediately after his potentially being elected leader of the free world – to go to trial*, facing charges of tying a 13-year-old child to a bed at a party, raping her and hitting her in the face when she says she begged to be released, declaring he could do to her whatever he wanted – reminiscent of his assertion that he can grab any woman by the “pussy”. The now-adult accuser (who says Trump warned her he would harm her family if she ever spoke out) is backed up by another woman who claims she was hired to recruit young girls and women to attend the parties thrown by Trump’s friend Jeffrey Epstein (who served less than two years in prison for soliciting a child into prostitution) and another who claims she witnessed the alleged crime taking place. Trump vehemently denies these charges but, by the time a court decides if these allegations are true, it will be too late to affect the election result. His other response to all allegations of sex crimes has been to assure the public that any woman behind them would feel the full force of litigation and his infinite access to the best lawyers. And so the alleged victims may end up losing their livelihoods or freedom as a result of speaking out.
In the interest of balance, Hillary Clinton has also had to answer for sexual misconduct. Just not her own
In the interest of balance, Hillary Clinton has also had to answer for sexual misconduct. Just not her own. It is believed that the FBI is currently investigating emails sent from Clinton’s private email server that relate to Anthony Weiner, former congressman and estranged husband of Huma Abedin, close aide to Hillary Clinton. Weiner – who has been astonishingly persistent in showing women his penis for lolz – is this time under investigation for sexting a 15-year-old child and is facing decades in prison if found guilty. Clinton and Abedin washed their hands of him earlier this year, but suspected historical emails to Clinton sent by Abedin from Weiner’s computer are being described by Trump as “the greatest political scandal since Watergate”.
Anyone who stayed up, rocking back and forth, to watch the presidential debates will know that this is far from the first time Trump has seen the wilfully atrocious sexual behaviours of men to be Hillary Clinton’s fault. Trump has called her an “enabler” in her husband’s humiliating infidelities and persistently pronounced that she is the abuser of women; not he, the man who described a breastfeeding mother as “disgusting”, speculated on the menstrual cycle of a professional broadcaster and described his boastful description of sexual assault as mere locker-room talk. It is an indisputable fact that a male candidate would never be blamed for the atrocious actions of women with such assumed legitimacy and yet millions seemingly view this desperate act of projection as fair game.
Because, while you might not want to leave your daughter in a room with Donald, would you really want Hillary round for dinner? And it is this sentiment, not the mere fact that we are looking at the very real possibility of a Trump presidency, that most terrifies. It is the realisation that to hate, ridicule and assault women is a notion that can be tolerated by millions like an unpaid parking ticket or off-colour joke at the office party. It is the growing fear that this is how the broader public feels about us too, that misogyny and sex crimes are felt to be an irrelevance objected to only by the liberal elite and whiny politically correct, when there are massive walls to build and other more important matters at hand. This election is bigger and darker than simply choosing the lesser of two evils, the more jocular and charismatic of two personalities. It’s about deciding whether women’s lives matter more than teaching an unlovable female scholar a lesson she won’t forget.
*Update 5 November 2016: Donald Trump's child rape accuser dropped her lawsuit after receiving death threats.