Impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump are limping to an end in the Senate this week. As Kyle Cheney and Anthony Desiderio write in Politico, Democratic senators have one last chance to make their case against the president, but the “Republican-controlled Senate … has all but decided the president will be acquitted.”
Amid the creeping inevitability of Trump’s acquittal, and the sense that he can truly get away with anything, it was easy to miss an open letter from 50 members of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, decrying Trump’s “continuing derogation of women” in actions, policies and rhetoric throughout his entire career. In fact, when I finally did see it, my first reaction was dismissal.
It wasn’t that I disagreed with them. “It is most shameful that the words young girls and boys hear directed at women from the upper echelons of power are dripping with disdain and disrespect,” the letter read. It is incredibly shameful, I nodded as I read.
“The message being sent to young girls and boys is that women don’t matter and their equality is allowable only when convenient,” the letter continued. That is demoralizing, I agreed. But what could a letter possibly do to a man who gets away with everything?
Democrats talk about the value of unity and building a big tent, but Republicans are masters of unity at all costs. Nearly every Republican male lawmaker, every “father of a daughter” who decried Trump’s misogynist “grab them by the pussy” comments on the Access Hollywood tapes, conveniently forgot said daughters and came to his side when he won the 2016 election. The Republican tent is so big it has room for misogynists and white nationalists.
That may remain true, but I realized I was both demanding too much of one open letter and overlooking the importance of female lawmakers speaking truth to power. It’s an impact act even when it’s not convenient, even — in fact, especially — when it seems futile, when despair makes me react to a heartfelt letter with doubt and distrust.
With an avalanche of terrible news every day, it’s easy to forget the breadth and depth of Trump’s cruelty to women. These lawmakers haven’t, and it matters that they didn’t let cynicism prevent them from taking the time to remind us:
Beyond your public policy choices – stripping away women’s access to health care, undermining protections for survivors of sexual assault, reversing equal pay efforts and more – your words demonstrate a contempt for women who dare to do their jobs or speak truth to power which reflects poorly on you. It is as if you relish the opportunity to publicly humiliate any woman who fights back, speaks up, or takes up space.
The letter isn’t the only action these women are taking, of course. There are new laws to fight for, an entire Democratic presidential primary, and the state and local elections, whose results and campaigns are less nationally flashy than the presidential race, but no less important to our democracy. They’re juggling all of that, and it still matters that they took the time to write the letter. Read it here.Print