This is not the first time we have seen Republican voters support a sexual predator.
The Republican Party’s relentless support for their Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, despite all the allegations of sexual assault against him and the public outrage around his confirmation hearing, should make any voter question the moral bases of the GOP establishment. This rallying behind Kavanaugh is not limited to political elites, but extends to Republican voters.
This is not the first time we have seen Republican voters support a sexual predator. In December 2017, the Republican Roy Moore, an alleged child molester, got almost half of the votes before losing to his Democratic counterpart in Alabama’s Senate special election. Two years ago, the unambiguous evidence of Donald Trump‘s sexual misconduct did not stop his political advances toward the presidency. So, why do some voters choose to support sexual predators and child molesters?
The easy answer is partisan inclinations. Where political competition is strong, polarization is intense and the threat of losing power is high, voters are willing to support their co-partisans blindly. Choosing to punish their politicians for bad behavior could mean risking the chances of their party’s control over future policies. The case of Kavanaugh is very telling in this regard. If Republican voters withdraw their support from a hardcore conservative nominee, they will risk the future control of the Supreme Court.
This explanation is intuitively appealing, but it is not the full answer. Kavanaugh is not the only potential nominee with strong support for Republican values. Others can fill up the position and deliver similar outcomes to conservative voters. Nominating an alternative is not extremely costly to the GOP establishment or the president, and can even win some Democratic hearts. Republican voters can also exert pressure on their leadership to signal discontent with the nominee. Despite the availability of alternative options serving the same partisan needs, nothing unpredictable happened and the process went as if all the sexual allegations never came to the surface. In fact, some voters prefer politicians such as Trump, Kavanaugh and Moore, even if other partisan options are available. Why?
If a system is so restrictive and unchanging, you need the “bad boy” to get things done. With all its vetos and impermissible two-party setup, America has a rigid political system. There are so many rules and hurdles that you need the bad boy to beat your rivals and get you what you want. In such an environment, voters need to find political bullies.
Yet it is hard for the voter to tell which politician is the bad boy. Now, think about the bad boys you met or heard about in your high school, college or workplace. They more or less share a similar profile: a confident macho male bragging about how he got a girl to do something she was not into last night. The type of the sexual adventures of the bad boy is more than gossip — it sends information about his way of doing things. He can get what he wants even if others don’t think he should. This is the type of politician some voters like. They are not to be stopped by the rules and norms. In a patriarchal masculine society, a sexual adventure is a promising sign for some voters that their man can extract what they need from others.
Is it true that Americans like a strong leader who doesn’t care about rules and breaks the system of checks and balances? We can look at nationally representative surveys to answer this question. According to World Values Survey data, one-third of Americans think that having a strong leader who doesn’t have to bother about elections or Congress is a “good” or a “very good” idea. For an established democracy, this is shocking. To put things in perspective, this percentage is equivalent to that reported in Algeria, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, Yemen and Egypt. All these countries were dictatorial or semi-dictatorial regimes at the time of the survey.
A significant portion of Americans favor an authoritarian leader, a man who does not care about the rules or follow what “should” be done. In an era of political correctness and increasing liberal activism, a good way to find a “true” leader is to learn about his past and how he subvert the rules to get what he wants. Sadly, from a misogynist point of view, learning about how a man subjugated women and forced them to surrender to his will against theirs is one way to tell who can be a dominant leader and a politically bully.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.