I’ve been wading through the issues in this political season trying to decide my vote for president. Not once have I ever leaned toward Mr. Trump. I tried to listen. I tried to make this election about the political issues and ignore the non-political. But I can’t. Because at some point, the non-political elements will become political.
For all those, including some dear friends, who have tried to justify what Mr. Trump says and how he acts, I have just accepted the fact that you and I are in far different places.
Some may even challenge me over the question of grace. Doesn’t it mean anything to you that Mr. Trump apologized and that he says he’s a changed man? they will ask.
First, a non-apology (a statement that sounds like an apology but that is worded to place blame on those who were hurt or offended) is not an apology. Remember, Mr. Trump is the one who told us that he has no need for forgiveness. I have not heard a genuine apology yet. (He’s only on version 2 of his apology as of the writing of this post, so perhaps he’ll improve.)
Second, I’ve heard a lot of locker room talk and locker room talkers over my lifetime. That’s what Mr. Trump says this is — just locker room talk. Locker room talk is not ok.
The inner compass of locker room talkers does not change when they’re not in the locker room. They still objectify people, start rumors, cast blame on others and avoid taking responsibility. They just shift to a more subtle and, some would say, more acceptable mode. I believe Mr. Trump truly feels that he has made some major changes only because he has changed his language for the public. That’s applaudable, but not my primary concern.
Mr. Trump is still a locker room talker. It’s classic bully positioning. He must make others look bad and show his power over them because of his own lack of self esteem. If that means inciting racial violence by espousing white supremacy or trying to downplay the mistreatment of women, he knows no boundaries. And talking has a bidirectional element to it. Talking can reveal our inner selves and it can also mold our inner selves.
Mr. Trump has openly admitted that he has behaved badly. His language and demeanor almost guarantees there is more bad behavior to come.
For non-political reasons, I will never vote for Mr. Trump. For those of you who believe you can, just remember that non-political reasons transform themselves into political realities for us all. This will not make America great.