Again it is in the news.  Not Brock Turner (although I could do a few more posts on him) but instead Donald Trump, candidate for President of the United States.  I’ve been mulling this one over and over since Friday.  I’ve heard every talking head intone about this, from both sides of the issue. And I have felt that sick, down the elevator, feeling in my gut, every time I’ve seen “the” tape.

I want to be clear.  I was disgusted and appalled by Bill Clinton’s behavior 20 years ago too.  I wouldn’t have been unhappy to have him run out of the White House.  But despite Ken Starr giving it his best shot, it didn’t happen.  I might also have been one of those self-righteous women who made some value judgements about why Hillary stayed with him.  I’m older now and please God, a little wiser.  I hope bBl Clinton is too.  And Hillary?  Who knows the reason why couples stick, and why some give up.  What is right for one isn’t right for another.

But that was then and this is now.  Character matters to me. How a person presents themselves…how they speak of different religions, sexual orientation, nationality, skin color…that matters to me.  Social justice matters.  And the right to life, in all of its breadth and depth matters to me.  Not just the innocent baby, but the toddler who lives in overwhelming poverty, or the black youth that wonders if he will be pulled over by the police, or the immigrant who works harder than me, for less pay, in hopes of giving his family what they believe is the American dream.

Trump has stomped on those ideas for me since the race began.  I thought, surely Christians will run the other direction because how does what he says fit into the call of Christ to do for “the least of these”, to care for children and widows.  I don’t understand.

Then the tape came out, of Trump speaking about women in the most crude and derogatory of terms.  That sick feeling hit instantly.  I realized more women that not, hold a piece of a similar story.  I hold a piece of a similar story.  It is something that tears at the very fabric of a woman’s self-worth. With punch to my gut, I realized, there are so, so many stories. I thought we had gotten better than that.

This is what I know.  A man who talks that way is statistically likely to have acted on his boasts.  And for every victim that bravely comes forward to tell their story, there is usually at least another 6-8 women who simply can’t come forward.  So when Trump says it was all “locker room talk” that he never acted on, I simply do not believe him.  To excuse away such actions with phrases like “locker room talk, and all men do it, and boys will be boys”, is to deny the real and troubling rape culture that exists in our world today.

Trump tried to explain it away by saying it was a decade ago and he is a different man today.  But if you look back at his demeaning comments about women even during this presidential race that in simply false.  You can’t just stand up and say, “I respect women, no one respects women more that I do”.  Your actions MUST follow your words.  Trumps actions do not.

I am stumped, confused and heart-sick by the religious leaders that excuse away his behavior.  These are not things said in the heat of the race.  These are every day words he appears to live by.

In the early days everyone said his words were indefensible.  Many in his own party have distanced themselves.  They have exhibited some courage…they have decided to stand for something and not keep tilting  their heads to make the picture straight.  Good for them.

I will be glad when this is over.  It has brought a new low to politics and I wonder how we go on from here. When you go to vote, remember how he spoke about women, Muslims, Hispanics, disabled, black, poor.  Listen to that feeling in the pit of your stomach.  And then vote your conscience  whatever that may be.  That is what is demanded of us all.  Now more than ever.