Sharlee Mullins Glenn: Utah women, we must not defend the indefensible

(Max Becherer | The Advocate via AP) In this March 13, 2018, photo, a sheet with the words "censored" on it covers an anti-trump mural along the 3500 block of S. Liberty Street in New Orleans, La. Landowner Neal Morris sued after being ordered to remove the mural, which transcribes part of then-presidential candidate Trump's recorded "Access Hollywood" conversation, including a boast about groping women's genitals

Today -- Women’s Equality Day -- marks the 100th anniversary of the certification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women in the United States the right to vote.  

But the first woman to actually cast a vote in the U.S. did it 50 years earlier in the territory of Utah. On Feb. 12, 1870, 23-year-old Seraph Young became the first woman in the country to vote under an equal suffrage act in a municipal election in Salt Lake City.

This is a powerful legacy for Utah women, and it comes with an equally powerful responsibility. We must continue to lead out as engaged, informed voters.

One thing that both major political parties in our traditionally conservative state agree on is the absolute necessity of strong moral leadership. The Utah Republican Party Platform is adamant on this point: “We demand honesty, integrity, morality, and accountability of our public officials.”

Given this, how can any Utahn, regardless of political affiliation, justify the behavior of our current president?

Take his views and treatment of women as just one example. President Donald Trump has demonstrated over and over again -- by his own words and actions (no biased media or “fake news” needed) -- that he apparently sees women as mere commodities, to be possessed, used or discarded at will.

Let the facts speak for themselves. This is a man who (on tape or in print) has called various women slobs, fat pigs, dogs, ugly, disgusting. This is a man who at age 52 was dating Norwegian heiress Celina Midelfart while still married to Marla Maples with whom he had had an affair while still married to his first wife, Ivana, when he met and got the phone number of 28-year-old Melania, his current wife.

This is a man, the president of our nation, who, upon meeting French first lady Brigitte Trogneaux, commented on her body. This is the man who made inappropriate comments about his own daughter’s body, who has been quick to excuse other men accused of sexual and physical misconduct toward women (Roy Moore, Roger Ailes, Rob Porter, Bill O’Reilly, to name just a few), and who boasted openly about sexually assaulting women in the now infamous “Access Hollywood” tapes. And this is a man who has been accused by at least 25 separate women of sexual misconduct and has been embroiled in several sordid scandals involving a porn staran Apprentice contestant and a Playboy playmate

And this, my friends, is the president of the United States of America.

Let that sink in. No, don’t look away. And don’t try to deflect the facts with hackneyed red herrings. Don’t try to excuse or downplay this. If you minimize this, you minimize women. Period. 

We’re not talking here about a superficial weakness that should be overlooked in an otherwise good man. We’re talking about a profoundly corroded character.

 Again, political ideology is not the issue here. As a nation, we can survive and even thrive under more conservative and more progressive presidents alike. Our history has shown that. But can we survive the general acceptance, the justification, the defense even, of moral depravity?

Some have argued that Trump has just been maligned by a hostile press. No, in this case, he has done that all by himself. We don’t have to rely on news reports or opinion pieces. All we have to do is watch the live footage, read the tweets, hear what comes out of his own mouth.

Yes, there have been other politicians, presidents even, who have shown themselves to be deeply morally deficient. That is no reason to give this president a pass. And while others may have been pathetic philanderers, they did not exhibit the overtly misogynistic tendencies that Trump does. No, Trump stands alone here. While others may have at times ignored their moral compasses, Trump seems to have no moral compass.

 And it is long past time for people of principle — women in particular -- to stop rationalizing, pretending, deflecting, looking away. It’s time that we hold this president accountable. As the evidence continues to accumulate, not just about his degenerate trysts and payoffs, but about illegal business dealings, corruption, abuse of power, lies and more, we, the people, and certainly, we the women, must do our part and cast our votes to ensure that he is not reelected.

The moral foundation of our country depends on it. 

Sharlee Mullins Glenn

Sharlee Mullins Glenn, a lifelong resident of Utah, is a writer, a teacher, an advocate and a community organizer. She sits on the advisory board of Brigham Young University’s Office of Civic Engagement.