If after this weekend you were left wondering what the state of our political system has come to, you are not alone. After a video was released of Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, claiming that he had the right to sexually assault women because he was a celebrity, the Republican Party started falling to pieces. On top of that, Trump tried to brush off his comments as ‘locker room’ talk, failing to recognize that it is this very ‘boys will be boys’ attitude that perpetuates rape culture and teaches young boys to treat women as sexual objects. Then, during Monday night’s debate, we witnessed one of the most vitriolic displays between two presidential candidates in modern memory, in which Trump and Clinton refused to start off by shaking hands. Social media sites were rife with people voicing their opinions and expressing how appalled they are with this current election cycle. Yet, though Trump seems to have lost ample support from his party this week, there is still a chance for him to rebound.
The polling over the past few months has undulated in waves that closely align with our horror and then acceptance of past blunders (such as Trump’s criticism of the parents of Khzir Khan). It seems that we do not hold Trump accountable for these scandals long-term; perhaps we have become numb to his hateful, racist and sexist remarks, causing many individuals to revert back to supporting him because of party identification. Had the election been held towards the end of the summer, it is likely that Clinton would have won; and, if the election were held today she would likely win as well. But throughout the month of September, we saw Trump rise in the polls, as if those who had been horrified with him after his insults of the Khan parents had reverted back to their previous party affiliation. The campaign has become increasingly hostile and the media is so all-consumed with the candidates that it is hard for a day to pass in which a new ‘scandal’ involving one candidate or the other isn’t breaking revolving one candidate or the other. However, each story of this campaign that captures the nation’s attention seems to be passed over just as quickly. A Trump victory could still occur if the events of the past week slip the collective memory of the those currently disenchanted with him in the Republican Party.
The media industry makes profits by constantly churning out new stories, so we ought not be surprised if these entirely un-presidential actions on the part of Trump fade from the media’s attention within the next few days. As with the scandal surrounding Trump and the parents of Khzir Khan, what might seem like a game-changing week in the campaign right now could easily fade from collective memory quite rapidly. However, we must not let that happen. These recent actions have shown, perhaps more than anything seen in this election cycle, that Trump is unfit to rule this country because of his blatant sexism, statements about his authoritarian intentions and inability to work with the top leadership of his own party. Although the media will likely move on, it is important that these issues remain a part of the conversation in the remaining weeks of the campaign. As you stand in the poll booths, remember how he bragged about his ability to sexually assault women since as a celebrity he could get away with it; how he told Clinton in the debate that if he were president, she would be in jail, verbalizing at the authoritarian ideology that he has hinted at in his tweets and previous actions; and the immature and hostile reaction that he had to Republican Party leaders like Paul Ryan who stated they would no longer actively campaign on his behalf.