This post isn’t going to be kind to Donald Trump. If you landed here by accident, I urge you to turn away now. You know what? Maybe check out a different blog altogether. If you are going to defend Trump, then this site has nothing for you. But also, let’s talk for a minute… Who hurt you? Wait, no. Stick to the topic John.
For the majority of thinking people, the fact that Donald Trump managed to get elected two years ago is the craziest thing to happen in politics in our lifetime. That dude has absolutely no business being President. Or being a leader of any kind. Or being let out from supervised containment sights…
But here’s the thing: His election was Bill Clinton’s fault. You know, the guy who is married (still… somehow) to Trump’s opponent in that election? That Bill Clinton. Not the other one. I assume there is another one.
How is it possibly Bill Clinton’s fault that Archie Bunker was given nuclear launch codes? Was it something he said on the campaign trail? No. Was it one of the things he did while he was president? Nope. Was it some sort of Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure/time travel anomaly? No, although Bill and Ted is ruined now. No, it was none of those things. It was his sex scandal*.
How does Bill Clinton’s affair lead to Donald Trump becoming president? Well that would seem to be the whole point of this post wouldn’t it? I should make my argument pretty soon eh? ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!?
Here’s how this happened:
As in most countries, Americans have always had different criteria that they use for selecting their leaders. Political differences aside though, there was always something that was a prerequisite for presidential candidates: Gravitas. The person seeking the job had to seem to fit the office. There was a reverence for the office, even if there was disdain for the office holder.
You can disagree with certain presidents’ policies or how effective their tenure was, but presidents from both parties always had a certain air of status. Before anything else, voters looked for someone who at least gave the impression of a mind at work. The person would need to be well spoken or have strong moral fibre or be unflappable. Most of the time they’d need to be all three.
Ronald Reagan is a classic example. Democrats demonize the man to this day, but no one thought he was beneath the office of president as a man. The same can be said of men like Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush. Even their opponents had great respect for them, despite their policy disagreements. And it could also be said of Bill Clinton… until he had his affair.
Now, affairs were nothing new to the oval office. Kennedy certainly had many and the rumours of them were alive and well during his presidency. But there was one major difference – 24-hour news. 24-hour news channels are built to go haywire over scandals and major disasters. They found new ways to keep the conversation going and had no problem reporting rumour and innuendo. And they came to prominence right around the same time as Bill Clinton let his libido take over his brain.
Something that had happened many times before (no one can actually think that Kennedy and Clinton are the only presidents to fall victim to sexual immorality) became the story that would never end this time. 24-hour news covered it around the clock. And the more salacious the details, the better their ratings were. For the first time, outrageous details – whether true or made up – were not just the purview of the tabloids. Americans simply couldn’t get enough. And all of that coverage that Americans (and most of the world for that matter) gobbled up had an unintended consequence. It demystified the office.
Suddenly everyone was welcomed into the president’s bedroom, which turned out to be the oval office. Nothing was off limits. And the consequence was that people suddenly remembered something – this was just an ordinary dude. There was nothing special about him and therefore there was nothing special about the office. Suddenly the perception was that anyone could do this.
Think about it. After Clinton came George W. Bush. Politics aside, his opponents attacked him in new and personal ways that were previously deemed to be beneath the office. Next came Barack Obama, who was dealing with widespread conspiracy theories before he even took office. Did this stuff exist with previous presidents? Of course. But it was the territory of kooks and tabloids. Since the Bill Clinton Scandal, it has gone mainstream.
The political process leads to people trying to convince the electorate that the solutions to all of their problems are simple, but now something new happened – we believed them. Winning has always been the goal of campaigns and they’ve always gotten nasty, but the candidates had to have a certain level of respectability that disappeared. Richard Nixon had to resign in disgrace for doing something that today would be considered a necessary part of politics by supporters.
Now, maybe you argue that this demystification of the office of the president is a good thing. There is a decent case to be made that it is good for us to remember that these are human beings, not demigods. But there is no denying that someone as bombastic as Donald Trump would never have passed the first test of a presidential candidate prior to Clinton.
Love him or hate him, no one this outrageous would get his party’s nomination. But now, that outrageousness became his greatest strength. If there is no gravity to the office, then anything goes in trying to win it. And suddenly the bare-fisted boxer becomes the front-runner.
All of Trump’s scandals have only further emphasised this point. He seems untouchable because he is. Because there is no longer a different bar set for him than there is for the rest of us. Unless it’s blatantly illegal (and possibly not even then), you can do it.
So, there you have it. Since Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election everyone has been asking how that was possible. She probably needs to blame the guy she sleeps next to… assuming he isn’t in someone else’s bed.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: You made it the whole post without taking a cheap shot and then you end with one?!? I just couldn’t help myself…)
*Please note that I will be referring the well-known scandal as the Bill Clinton sex scandal rather than by its more common name, The Monica Lewinsky Scandal. Why? Because the fact that we refer to it by her name rather than his is incredibly sexist. She did nothing wrong. She was a young lady who was taken advantage of by an older man in a position of power. The entire scandal is on his end, not hers. See here for more.