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Vassar: This election taught us that we value laws more than morals

The election is finally over. After four months of being hit over the head with flawless logic from both sides, essentially saying they deserve your vote exclusively because they aren’t the other candidate, the antagonist of literally every workplace sexual assault and harassment video became the 45th president of our formally great nation. I wasn’t too thrilled with either candidate and found it astounding that out of the potentially millions of American citizens that qualify to run for president, we ended up with a man whose ego is bigger than his wallet and a woman whose Instagram bio contains the phrase “doting grandmother”. Now, no candidate is perfect, and a career in politics is precariously complicated and getting through a career without a few black eyes (deserved or not) is a rarity, but the two we ended up with have more flaws and bruises than most. While I’m sure both candidate’s policies and plans for the well-being of the country’s future do have some flaws, I refer to their character. I must stress that his article means to deal with what the election implies for our country’s acceptance of missteps, and by no means does it mean to bash either candidate, or what their vision for the future of the country is.

Both have violated the public trust in different ways. Trump, from his 11 sexual assault charges, shady business dealings, feuds with random people, and general and miscellaneous nonsense has had his moral integrity and character come into question many times. So often during the election that it seems that on multiple occasions he’d forgotten that more than just white male landowners can vote. On the other hand, the way Clinton handled and reacted to her husband’s sex scandal and well of sexual assault charges, her use of a personal email address connected to a privately-owned server instead of a government one during her stint as 44th president Barack Obama’s first-term secretary of state, and the time she straight up lied to congress has her procedural tendencies and ignorance of the law come into question. Based off these instances, Trump seems to spit in the face of our morals and values and Clinton spits in the face of our laws. However, the issues aren’t that black and white, they cannot be just addressed simply by wearing a Make America Hate Again hat ironically or slapping a Hillary for Prison sticker on a street light post. For many this has been the most important part of the election. Debating who was the lesser of the two evils. Based off the results of the election, Donald Trump is.

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It’s almost poetic that Hillary Clinton was so instrumental in her own loss. Based off the results of the election, the American people are more accepting, and lenient, towards a breach in morals as opposed to the law. In the tough on crime 90s, Clinton backed her then president husband on his zero tolerance of infringement upon the law policy and reforms. Today, we are still rigid in the belief of minimal tolerance of crime and law breaking, as proven by the results of the election. On the other hand, our culture is quite lenient when it comes to breaches in moral integrity. So lenient, it’s a bit scary. The interest in Donald Trump’s numerous wrongdoings isn’t necessarily because it exposes him, but because it gives limelight to the issue of how bad deeds by famous or important people can go unnoticed or nonchalantly dealt with, specifically those dealing with such breaches in what society deems okay; the reason why we ignore sexual assault charges when the accused exudes charisma.

In some instances, Donald Trump has flat out bragged about using his powerful position to attack women, quoted as saying “when you’re a star, they let you do it”. Because he is the icon of corrupt pervy authority figures, he can almost get away with anything degrading to women. Essentially the “boys will be boys” defense. So what can be learned from the constant tolerance of his misogynistic chauvinism combined with his new job title?

For starters, the boys will be boys defense is legitimized. This further engrains the value that men just can’t help themselves towards women. As Trump puts it, “I’m automatically attracted to beautiful – I just start kissing them”. Based off this assumption, rape would be easily excusable. After all, you don’t throw meat into a wolves den without expecting them to eat it right? According to Trump’s defenders, and the majority of America based off this election, this is not harassment. Instead it’s “guy talk” that a woman can’t handle. His son Erik has boasted about how sexual assault is essentially a given, and “what happens” when alpha males get together. This instills the ideology that it is natural and commonplace for men to have to socialize by the rules of a masculine hierarchy, and that predatory language isn’t sexual assault, but instead locker room talk characterized by changing around a few verbs when in the presence of a woman. This shows that Trump was right in betting that when confronted with irrefutable evidence, our morality is weaker than our fandom or idealism.

Donald Trump’s election further solidifies America’s habit of turning a blind and nonchalant eye to the wrongdoings of those in power and with considerable fame or fortune, creating smokescreens for terrible actions, and discouraging people from speaking out when taken advantage of this system. Whether or not these implications spell doom for our nation is up for debate, this article would have still been written had Hillary won and I can assure you her potential would have had its fair share of distressing implications as well.

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  • H

    Howard GaskillNov 13, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    Very well written, Ethan. Perhaps I say that because I agree with your reasoning and analysis.
    This election was a circus. I held my nose and voted for Trump largely because I couldn’t stand the idea of Bill Clinton back in the White House.
    An aside:I was an election judge at a small polling place in Delaware. A little over 3% of our voters could not speak a word of English. With my limited Spanish, and a printed copy of the ballot, I was able to demonstrate to them how to go into the voting booth and cast their votes. Followed that up by thanking them for coming out to vote and gave them a “I Voted’ sticker. These folks had a state-issued ID ‘Non-Drivers License’ card with photo. They were also properly registered to vote. How people who are obviousely not US citizens can get registered is beyond me. But I’m not involved in registering folks, I just do all I can to assist the registered ones in casting their ballot.
    Howard CSU ’61

    Reply
  • K

    kentNov 13, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    I found your opinion interesting and the fact that you had concerns with Hillary Clinton also. I read something a few days later that you may find interesting.
    Source “City of God” by Saint Augustine, pp.74
    … the line of Ennius: “Ancient morality and the men of old Fixed firm the Roman state.”

    and he (Cicero) continues,
    This verse, both by its brevity and its truth seems to me like the utterance of some oracle. For the great leaders could not have founded, or could not have so long maintained such a great state with such a vast stretch of empire, had there not been that morality in the community; nor could the morality have done so, without the leadership of such men. Thus, before, our own period, the traditional moral code produced outstanding men, and these excellent men preserved the code and the practices of their forebears. Whereas our age has received the commonwealth like a magnificent picture which has almost faded away with age, and it has not only omitted to restore it with the original colours; it has not even taken trouble to preserve what one may call the general shape and the bare outlines. For what remains of that ancient morality which, according to the poet, supported the Roman state? We see that it has passed out of use into oblivion, so that far from being cultivated, it does not even enter our minds. And what about the men? The morality has passed away through lack of the men: and we are bound to be called to account for this disaster, and even one may say, to defend ourselves on a capital charge. For we retain the name of a commonwealth, but we have lost the reality long ago: and this was not through any misfortune, but through our own misdemeanours.
    Augustine p. 75. … Those who praise the state of Rome in the time of ‘ancient morality an dthe men of old’ should ask themselves whether real justice flourished in that city, or whether, it may be, it was not even then a living reality in men’s behaviour, but merely a fancy picture. This, in fact, is what Cicero unconsciously admits, even when he is commending it.

    sorry for the long quote, but the book is over 1000 pages. I wish you well, I wish Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and America well.

    Reply