Over the last several weeks we’ve all encountered the hashtag #NotMyPresident along with the accompanying sentiment. The response has been predictable: Trump was elected by the electoral college, so he is president. And if you’re American, he’s your president, period.
Yesterday conservative Christian radio host Michael Brown issued his own indictment of the #NotMyPresident crowd. In Brown’s view, folks need to “Get over it” because Trump is their president:
To the Trump haters. I had massive issues with Obama as POTUS but he was still my president. Now Trump is yours. Get over it.
— Dr. Michael L. Brown (@DrMichaelLBrown) January 21, 2017
Let’s start off by distinguishing two senses in which the question can be discussed: we can call these the procedural question and the ethical question. The procedural question is the question of whether Trump won the electoral college. The ethical question is the question of whether, irrespective of whether Trump won the electoral college, he is a leader to whom one can submit in good conscience. And I would submit that the latter question is far more important than the former. It’s also the question I’m concerned with here.
So how can a person decide whether they can, in good conscience, recognize the POTUS as their president? The starting point is an honest evaluation of the individual’s character and conduct. In my interaction with Brown, I decided to address one question: the outstanding charges of sexual assault:
@DrMichaelLBrown Let's consider one of many issues: there are 12 outstanding charges of sexual assault against Trump. "Get over it"? Really?
— Randal Rauser (@RandalRauser) January 21, 2017
Unfortunately, I’ve seen many Trump supporters point out that Trump has not been found guilty of sexual assault in a court of law. But that is irrelevant. One does not need to await a criminal or civil judgment in a court of law to form an opinion on the credibility of charges.
Imagine, for the moment, that your son’s little league coach is accused of sexually assaulting twelve young boys from the league. Imagine, as well, that the man has a history of making suggestive and inappropriate comments about young boys. Imagine that the man could continue to coach until he was found guilty in a court of law. Would you keep your son on the team for the duration of the trial? The very notion is absurd. The fact is that we don’t need to await a court judgment to form our opinions about the man’s guilt.
By the same token, one does not need to remain agnostic on charges that Trump sexually assaulted women until there is a judgment in a civil or criminal proceeding.
So what does the evidence suggest? A history of misogynistic comments judging women by their physical appearance; sexualizing his own daughter as a “piece of ass”; sexualizing his other daughter when she was an infant by admiring her legs and speculating on her future cleavage; multiple witnesses stating that Trump would enter the change rooms at beauty pageants (including those with minors) in the hope of seeing female contestants in various stages of undress; his own bragging that he grabs women by their genitals; and the testimony of twelve witnesses, many with corroborating testimony from friends and family.
On the other side of the ledger you have Trump’s insistence that he didn’t do it. You also have his promise that after the election he would sue his twelve accusers, a promise that he has now broken. However, last week one of his accusers filed a lawsuit against him for defamation.
Based on that evidence, it seems to me that the most reasonable conclusion is that Donald Trump is an unrepentant misogynist sexual predator. And I, for one, could never ethically recognize an unrepentant misogynistic sexual predator as my president, irrespective of the answer to the procedural question.
For a full account of my exchange with Michael Brown you can follow this link to read our exchange. There you will see that Brown’s only response to the evidence I listed above is the third-hand testimony that Trump has evidence undermining his 12 accusers. I’ll leave it to you to judge whether that third-hand testimony is sufficient to outweigh the evidence I listed above.