Alan Zendell, March 26, 2018
The other day, a woman friend told me she wondered how any evangelical Christian woman could continue to support Donald Trump after all the credible allegations of his mistreatment and lack of respect for women that have come out. In asking that, she echoed what I’ve heard from my wife and sister as well as from all my other female friends. She also echoed what I’ve heard from most of my male friends.
Recent polls show that Trump’s support among women has dropped from the nearly fifty percent who voted for him to under thirty, but if we’ve learned anything in the Trump era it’s to not rely on polls. The recent election in Pennsylvania’s 18th district lends some support to the idea that Trump’s support among women, particularly white suburban women, is dwindling, but that still leaves the perplexing question, why would any woman support him after everything we’ve seen and heard?
We know that many women voted for Trump in 2016 because of the “Hate Hillary” movement that’s been spreading negative propaganda for decades. Others simply believed, rightly or wrongly, that the Democrats haven’t done enough to assure our security or reduce crime. But with respect to evangelical Christians, specifically, Trump’s support by women in 2016 is downright creepy and inexplicable.
In an era when we thought women had finally found their own voices and stopped letting men tell them how to live, what are we to infer from the way they voted? How many women were still being dictated to by the men in their lives? And even worse, how many had their political opinions shaped from the pulpit? Isn’t that a violation of the spirit of the Constitution?
We won’t really know how much women’s attitudes have changed until November, and many people, myself included, see little point in continuing to try to understand what happened in 2016. Better to look to the future. In that regard, we should be asking a broader question. Writing for the Chicago Tribune last month, Heidi Stevens said, “Maybe it’s time to stop asking why a percentage of women are fine with what Trump’s offering and start asking why anyone is.”
In support of that idea, she said that continuing to ask why so many women supported Trump makes it sound like it was their fault Trump was elected. That’s true to some degree, but there were many reasons Trump won, and blaming the result on women is disingenuous. But more importantly, Ms. Stevens noted that focusing on women’s support of Trump “turns sexual assault, rollbacks on birth control access, gendered insults and domestic violence into women’s problems, rather than humanity’s.” I couldn’t have said it better.
Trump’s behavior with respect to women is an affront to everyone. And while I love seeing women speak out in their own defense, it’s time all of us men spoke up just as loudly. Any man who has a wife, sister, or daughter should be appalled by what comes out of Trump’s mouth. I wonder what those who continue to support him say to their little girls when they see this stuff on television. All of my children and grandchildren are male, but I have the same attitude with respect to them. I’m proud that my sons see it the same way, and as my oldest grandson becomes old enough to understand, I make sure to give him the same message.
Americans have mocked European leaders for decades about their seemingly endless sex scandals. Now they’re mocking us, as the number of women who have publicly accused Trump of sexual misconduct or adultery has risen to nearly twenty. But this isn’t just about morality.
It’s also about abuse of power and the possibility of criminal actions by the president. Twenty years ago, Bill Clinton was impeached for lying to cover up an affair that occurred years before he took office. Today, the sordid details of Trump’s attempts to cover up affairs with Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal and adult film star Stormy Daniels have become the new face of America, not only at home, but everywhere. Is there any reason he should be treated differently?
If you’re not angry and embarrassed by all this, I have to ask, “Why not?”