Whereas Carol is not bothered by what I consider Trump’s questionable outbursts and comments, the same cannot be said for her best friend Janet. Janet, born in 1952, is one year older than Carol. They met in Catholic grade school. Though neither has maintained a steady relationship with Catholicism, their friendship is still going strong.
Janet has been married to the same man for more than 40 years. Her husband is often on the road for his job selling agricultural supplies throughout the region. She has two grown children. Her son is a police officer. Her daughter is married to a Mexican-American. She is a grandmother to several tiny tots.
Though she actually may be steelier at the core than Carol, her exterior is much softer. Janet gives out far more hugs than business cards. Janet has held a range of jobs from clothing store manager to tax preparer. Now she oversees the day-to-day operations at the marijuana shop where she is the salt to Carol’s pepper.
Janet, perhaps more than most of the women I’ve spoken with, finds Trump disgusting. Unfortunately, she finds Clinton more disgusting. Trump may be guilty of various forms of sexual misconduct, but Clinton is guilty of downplaying similar behavior perpetrated by her husband. In the aftermath of Bill’s sex scandals, Hillary did not come across as being particularly supportive of his victims. If Hillary had denounced her husband’s actions, perhaps even separated from him or divorced him, it might have been easier to believe she took those issues seriously. Instead, it appeared that women’s concerns only mattered if they didn’t get in the way of her political ambitions.
Janet points out that for every bad thing about Trump, Clinton pretty much goes toe-to-toe. Both have insulted or dismissed groups of people, both have gotten rich and powerful using questionable means, and both have ties to elite groups (deep-pocketed interest groups vs. billionaire cronies) that likely will affect their agendas.
Both give off a similar sense that “normal people” rules don’t apply to them. Private server? Not paying taxes? Perhaps neither is illegal exactly, but they don’t seem particularly ethical either.
To Janet, here is the number one difference between the candidates: Clinton has done all of these things while in various positions of public service. For this reason alone, Joyce says she holds Clinton to a higher standard.
Janet finds Clinton untrustworthy at least in part because she is so much more adept than Trump at concealing her true motives and feelings. Trump may mock a disabled person from a worldwide stage, but if he can’t keep a lid on something as obviously wrong as that, there’s probably not much he keeps hidden.
I’ve heard and read the opinion from some people who didn’t support Trump that a vote for him was an affirmation of every aspect of his character—the implication being that you, too, support a registry for Muslims or that you give a metaphorical thumbs up to everything he’s said about women or black people or Mexicans. This seems reasonable until I turn the tables.
I see clearly the ways in which Hillary was a less-than-ideal candidate. She voted for war. She’s gotten rich on the dime of special interests groups—and who knows how many “backroom deals” she’s negotiated. Looking back, I don’t think she handled her husband’s various sex scandals as well as she could have. Undeniably, an element of her political persona is less than authentic. I’ve chalked this up to the compromises she’s had to make to be taken seriously in the political arena. But maybe I’ve been too dismissive of her flaws.
When I voted for Clinton did it mean I supported every comment or decision she’s ever made? I certainly hope not.
But if I’m willing to let myself off the hook for Hillary’s bad qualities, why am I so inclined to hold Trump supporters accountable for his every misogynistic or xenophobic impulse?
Janet doesn’t think Trump’s bad qualities are more evil than Hillary’s. Janet thinks the worst of his are hyperbole and bluster whereas Clinton’s have actually hurt and killed people. Yes, I say, but do you know how many people he is likely to harm and endanger now that he’s in office?
Then I realize how insane this conversation is. We are judging presidential candidates by who’s done or will do the least amount of damage, by who is likely to ruin the fewest lives, by who we think has lied and cheated less.
This makes the evangelical Christian support for Trump all the more mysterious to me…