Is there really a moral difference?
Earlier this week, we were moved by the #metoo movement of women highlighting their experiences with sexual harassment, assault and abuse. #Metoo cast new and well-deserved moral shame upon those who enabled Harvey Weinstein’s misogynist malevolence for decades—and those who continue to stand side-by-side with sexism.
Of course, those who arguably should have felt the most shame from the #metoo movement were the women who experienced sexual harassment, inequality in the workplace and caustic comments from crude chauvinists, but who chose to effectively endorse and normalize such behavior by voting for Donald Trump one year ago.
Is there an actual distinction between the folks who helped Weinstein get away with his abuse and the folks who, by way of their votes and support, helped Trump get away with his?
Women who voted for Trump stabbed their sisters, mothers and daughters in the back and front when they cast that bitter ballot. Presumably, some of these women were horrified nearly a decade ago when they heard Barack Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, declare “God damn America!” How ironic that a decade later, Trump, the man these folks worship as a god, has in fact damned America.
What did these women have against Hillary Clinton, anyway? Did they really buy into all that BS about Clinton representing the “Establishment” and scorning working-class Americans? Were they obsessed with those damn e-mails? Did they actually view her as “Crooked Hillary,” and wanted her to be locked up?
On page 128 of her book What Happened, Clinton discusses being abandoned by some female voters:
[B]eginning even before I ran, political commentators wondered whether I’d inspire an unbeatable wave of women to come out and vote for me, in the same way President Obama inspired record-breaking black turnout. I hoped I would, of course, but I had my doubts. Gender hasn’t proven to be the motivating force for women voters that some hope it might be. If it were, we’d probably have had a woman president or two by now, don’t you think? In the end, I won an overwhelming majority of the votes of black women (94 percent) and Latino women (68 percent), and I won women overall by a safe margin (54 percent). But I failed to win a majority of white women, although I did better with them than Obama did in 2012.
Clinton elaborated upon this particular betrayal in a September 2017 interview with NPR:
But as I point out in the book — and I think that chapter I wrote on being a woman in politics really will be of interest to a lot of women and men. I talk about a conversation I had with Sheryl Sandberg, who has really helped to put into perspective a lot of research that supports common experiences. And she said, look, the research is absolutely definitive. The more professionally successful a man is, the more likable he is; the more professionally successful a woman is, the less likable she is. And that when women are serving on behalf of someone else, as I was when I was Secretary of State, for example, they are seen favorably. But when they step into the arena and say, wait a minute I think I could do the job, I would like to have that opportunity, their favorabilities goes down. And Sheryl ended this really sobering conversation by saying that women will have no empathy for you, because they will be under tremendous pressure — and I’m talking principally about white women — they will be under tremendous pressure from fathers and husbands and boyfriends and male employers not to vote for “the girl.” And we saw a lot of that during the primaries from Sanders supporters, really quite vile attacks online against women who spoke out for me, as I say, one of my biggest support groups, Pantsuit Nation, literally had to become a private site because there was so much sexism directed their way.
If I were Clinton, I doubt that I could find it in my heart to forgive any woman who looked at me and found me inadequate to serve in the world’s most powerful position. I would harbor resentment towards those who could not look past hardcore partisanship, internalized sexism or a vague desire to “shake things up in Washington” prior to voting for the least qualified candidate ever to secure the nomination of a major US political party. It is a testament to Clinton’s steel-strong character that she has risen above the grudge that she is more than entitled to hold against those who spat in her face last year by voting for the bigoted billionaire. Tennessee Williams famously declared that “[H]igh station in life is earned by the gallantry with which appalling experiences are survived with grace”; having survived the appalling experience of the 2016 campaign with grace, Clinton has earned a much higher station in life than Trump ever will.
Yes, there is indeed no moral difference whatsoever between the folks who helped Harvey Weinstein abuse women and the folks who helped Donald Trump abuse this country. In both cases, those enablers knew they were aiding and abetting amorality, but were simply too selfish to care. Compassion and empathy were not part of the equation when members of both groups acted on behalf of powerful, perverted predators. The folks who helped Weinstein will face history’s damnation. The same fate should befall those who made Trump president of this nation.