This morning NPR ran a short segment on Megyn Kelly’s forthcoming interview with Donald Trump, the vulgarian and perhaps-misogynist who appears to be headed toward winning the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. The segment focused on Trump’s attitude toward women.
I’m convinced, from what I’ve read and from what I’ve seen on t.v. of Trump, that he has no truly liberal attitude toward women. (Actually, Trump has no truly liberal attitude toward anyone.) But the dominant thought that ran through my mind as I listened to this NPR segment is this one: “It’s a shame that the attitude toward women of a prospective or actual president of the United States matters.” It is only because Uncle Sam has lots of power – and because the U.S. president has over the decades seized a great deal more power than the Constitution meant for the president to possess – that a president’s attitude toward women (and toward men, and toward rich people, and toward poor people, and toward gay people, and toward foreign people, and toward you-name-the-people) matters.
If a local restaurant owner or bank manager has a sour attitude toward middle-aged straight white guys with coonass last names, then I simply don’t go to that restaurant or that bank. Or, more likely, that restaurant owner or bank manager, who desires my business, successfully pretends that his attitude is different from what it really is. Either way, I’m not harmed by this sour attitude.
But a U.S. president is different. He or she worries far less about keeping me, an individual, pleased than does a private merchant. Not only can I practically not take my government business elsewhere, the U.S. president has at his disposal the use of force – and he gets to use that force over a wide, and expanding, range of activities.
It would be far better for us to not have to worry if a president is a vulgarian, a bigot, or a bloviating ignoramus than it is to instead have to worry, as we now must, about keeping such a person out of the Oval Office.