By now most of the nation has heard Donald Trump bragging to Billy Bush about the trappings of stardom. He doesn’t wait to start kissing women, he just moves on them and they let him because he is a star. All he needs to do is “grab them by the pussy,” he said.
Clearly, Trump was describing sexual assault, and bragging about how it is allowable for him because of the power that comes with his fame. While he later claimed that these were only “words and not actions,” those words almost exactly match the behavior of which he has been accused in the past, specifically that described in detail by a former business partner. They are not just words.
The disgusting nature of his particular brand of misogyny was brushed aside by him as “locker room talk,” and by others as how men speak of women in private. Perhaps some do, but most do not, and most will not tolerate it. That sort of excuse normalizes sexual assault and empowers rapists, who tend to believe they are not outliers but acting on normal male desires. Anyone who does not speak out against what Trump has described is enabling and encouraging sexual assault.
The lewd nature of Trump’s language has overshadowed another aspect of rape—that it is generally not about sexual desire, but is more an expression of power, humiliation and control. The tape tells us a lot about how Trump’s relationship to power and how he would use great power, should he achieve it.
Trump is under serious consideration for the highest office in the nation, possibly the most powerful position in the world, but his apologists note that he may step back or moderate his language and views once in office. Yet there is no historical precedent of power un-corrupting someone. Even in terms of our presidential elections, the winners have consistently pushed harder for their positions after taking office than they had described in their campaigns. They have to, in order to maintain that power and to negotiate from positions of strength. Expecting otherwise from Trump is to say that he has no interest in control.
That is ludicrous. Trump thrives upon control and power, and the humiliation that they allow him to thrust upon others.
Whether in his dealings with small contractors, and the many instances where he has simply decided not to pay them for their work; in his introduction of his running mate, where he patted the shorter man and tried to kiss him on the head; or in his bulldozing of the other GOP candidates, humiliation and power have worked hand-in-hand to propel him forward. His braggadocio regarding his ability to commit sexual assault and to bed married women fit exactly within that power/humiliation dynamic. Most of his business and personal relationships appear to end (or continue in some cases) with humiliation and/or bankruptcy for the other parties involved.
One might ask how this would this play out for Trump as an elected official, and many of his supporters have claimed it is irrelevant. However, he has told us exactly how it would play out, by describing his revenge scenario on Hillary Clinton, should he win the election, in their most recent debate. He promised to appoint to special prosecutor to pursue her until she is in jail.
This pledge was unprecedented for an American political campaign, and is impeachable on its face. Still, its brazenness and illegality has not seemed to matter to his base. If a president intends to commit crimes, he must be held responsible by Congress. As President Jackson demonstrated with his illegal and deadly forced relocation of Native Americans, as President Reagan demonstrated with his illegal funding of death squads, and many other examples show, only political will can stop a president determined to break the law. A powerless opposition is likely to allow a President to run roughshod over the Constitutional checks and balances, and Congress as an institution is arguably much less powerful now than during either of those administrations.
Not only is Congress weaker, but it has been displaying some of these same tendencies for some time. The continuous arguments by Congressmen for impeachment of President Obama, if only a crime can be found, were not new, being reminiscent of the late 1990s. The witch hunt surrounding Secretary Clinton’s email habits and Congressional politicization of the tragic attack on a US Embassy were, and were even justified as the political gamesmanship that they were in Republican fundraising emails.
We currently have one candidate running for President.
We have another running for Dictator. Everything about Donald Trump’s past business history, his statements about how government works (or doesn’t work), his proposed deportation forces, his promises to use the Justice Department as his personal revenge machine, his history of abusive treatment of women, his continuing attacks on the innocent “Central Park Five,” and the praise he has lavished on dictators around the world have shown this without doubt. His bus conversation with Billy Bush show us, more than anything, his callous nature toward other people and his belief in his right to literally and figuratively fuck anyone he wants.
Donald Trump has described on tape how his right to sexually abuse and manipulate is derived from the power of his celebrity. Imagine what rights he will claim for himself when he has the weight of the United States government behind him.