What Trump could have said to save his candidacy
In this historic election, recent revelations of Donald Trump’s sexual improprieties have, once again, challenged us all to question whether we can accept having him lead our country. Like so many embarrassed politicians before him, he made a public apology that was barely an apology. This brief moment when he was weakest is the one moment when we all are willing to challenge our distrust of him. Almost every politician fails in this precise moment because they will not admit the depth of their wrongs, and, in this way, Donald Trump did not disappoint. But this one moment is the very moment when he could redeem himself fully by admitting his wrongs and overturn so many of our prior doubts about his character. That he failed to recognize a clear political strategy revealed itself is a further testament to his ineptitude and inability to successfully lead our country through such a politically tumultuous time.
Trump could have responded differently. He could have appealed to our own aspirations. Here is what he could have said to convince us all that he has the temperance and good judgment to be our Commander-in-Chief.
Fellow citizens, as many of you have learned, a recording of me made ten years ago has surfaced recently that many have used to question my integrity as a leader and my decency as a man. In this recording, I made a series of claims and statements that most of you would consider lewd, indecent, and disrespectful of women. Some might even say deplorable.
You have seen and heard the recordings. I cannot deny that I said such disrespectful and vulgar things. I apologize deeply to all who have been threatened and offended by my statements. Those statements do not represent the fullness of my being, and I trust that those who know me well realize my respect and admiration for women.
Sadly, though, my statements are not unusual in our society. Such statements are often brushed off and regarded as simply ‘locker room banter.’ As if it were acceptable to say such things even in the privacy of a locker room. And yet we–men–do say such things about women, and our society allows us to express such vulgar intentions with impunity. Too often we regard such sentiments as men just being men, as boys just being boys. As if this were our inherent nature, immutable and unchangeable. This social acceptance of our words and actions fails to hold us to a higher standard of being more than we already are.
That I, at one time, believed such ideas and actions were acceptable is sad and reprehensible. That I expressed them openly shows poor judgment. That I felt I could say them publicly with complete impunity highlights the fundamental problem of sexism in our society: that we all are complicit. Every time we hear another share such disrespectful sentiments without acting out against them, every time we stand idly by, we, too, are sharing in the violence. We, too, are perpetuating the problem, for we need not actively oppress to promote oppression; we need only accept the oppression to promote it.
I cannot stand by all my words and actions of the past. But I can use them to shape a better future for all of us. My guilt in this is unquestionable, and I ask you all humbly to forgive me. Less obvious, and more pernicious, is that we all perpetuate a society that allows words like mine to pass for years as acceptable. As uncomfortable as it is for me now and as inopportune a timing as this is, the revelation of this recording is a welcome check on my own complacency, and I should hope we all see this moment as inspiration for constant vigilance in fighting off the ideations of oppression. Our country fails when we each fail. Our country suffers when we each suffer. Only by ending the suffering can we refrain from failure. I hope every American will join me in pledging to fight for justice and to Make American Great Again. Thank you and good night.