I will never forget that you asked me to sacrifice my daughteru2019s self-worth on the altar of your political ambition.u00a0(Photo: The Washington Post, MGNOnline)
A few days ago while driving my daughter to ballet, I decided to turn on NPR, remembering how, in my youth, I gradually learned about current events by catching snippets of the radio shows my parents listened to.
Moments later, I reflexively jabbed the off button as the host started playing audio of comments Donald Trump has made about women over the years.
I’m not ready for my daughter to know that those views exist, let alone are apparently found acceptable in a major party nominee for president. I’m not ready to see the look on her face when she realizes people are going to think about her that way just because she’s a girl.
During the primary season, I wrote an open letter to Republican politicians, anticipating Trump’s nomination and asking if they were going to stand by as the party of Lincoln became the party of Trump.
I now know that the answer to that question, with depressingly few exceptions, is yes. So I’m going to address this directly to the Republican Party, clearly and simply.
Come what may, as long as its leadership remains today’s old guard, the Republican Party will always and forever remain the party of Trump. That may not seem like such a big deal right now, while you’re all caught up in the middle of a misogynistic fever dream.
But it will come Nov. 9, when you realize you’ve lost not just a generation of young people or black people or women or immigrants, but also a not-insignificant number of people like me-white men, who are the only base you have left.
I am not black, Hispanic or Syrian, so though I feel profound disgust at Trump’s comments about them, I do not feel it as viscerally in my gut.
I am not a veteran. So again, though I am disgusted, I do not understand what it’s like to have a presidential nominee slander parents who have paid the highest price for their country.
What I am is a father of two daughters.
And the Republican Party’s embrace of a man from whom I need to shield my daughters has caused a rage to rise up inside me that I have not felt in years.
My daughter’s self-respect is not for sale and is certainly not worth surrendering for something as cheap as a politician’s hunger for power. The fact that one would ask me to do so is an indictment of the soul of the party.
In 2012, the Democratic nominee for Senate in the state of Tennessee was Mark Clayton. The day after the primary, the Tennessee Democratic Party issued this statement:
“Mark Clayton is associated with a known hate group in Washington, D.C., and the Tennessee Democratic Party disavows his candidacy, and will not do anything to promote or support him in any way.”
Disavowing a presidential candidate is orders of magnitude more difficult than disavowing a Senate candidate. But failing to do so is a profound failure in judgment, leadership and common decency.
To know that my daughters will be bullied because they are girls breaks my heart. To know that a major political party has set forth that bully as its candidate for president is infuriating.
So once again, I’ll address the Republican Party directly. I will never forget 2016. I will never forget that you wanted me to sell my self-respect so cheaply. I will never forget that you asked me to sacrifice my daughter’s self-worth on the altar of your political ambition.
John Graeber is a writer in Chattanooga who has also contributed to Glide Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @jbgraeber. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.