Words used to matter. In politics and in everyday life. I’m not sure if Donald Trump being elected changed the rules or if the rules changed and that got Trump elected. Either way words don’t seem to matter much anymore.
Those who support Trump and Republicans who wrap themselves in the Trump brand don’t seem to care much about the dignity that comes from words. I always thought a good definition of integrity was doing the right thing even when nobody is watching. But these days Republicans can’t seem to do the right thing when everybody is watching, and they and their supporters don’t seem to care about that either.
When the recording appeared of Trump speaking about how he could do anything with women because he was famous (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o21fXqguD7U), it was surprising it didn’t end his campaign. But his supporters, women included, shrugged it off as him not being a professional politician. Heaven forbid they might require their candidate to be a decent human being. Even his wife Melania said “boys will be boys” in defense of his crude sexist comments. Can you say “Stepford Wife?”
He said John McCain wasn’t a hero and attacked people based on their height or physical handicaps. At the same time he bragged about how big his hands were and how super intelligent he was.
And then there are the tweets. Trump’s juvenile responses and attacks on anyone and anything that opposes or criticizes him continue to make even other Republicans cringe. But his base loves them. Because words don’t matter to his supporters.
And perhaps the worst thing is that this has been a green light to his supporters and other Republicans to act and speak the same way. Which brings me to the election in The Woodlands.
Laura Fillault, the incumbent on The Woodlands board, took to Twitter like a Trump cult member. Sounding more like a drunken sailor on shore leave (my apologies to the Navy and it’s brave men and women for comparing Ms. Fillault to them in any way), Fillault told other posters to f— off, called one poster a “crazy b—-” and told others she didn’t give “a f— what you think.” This is just an example of some of the things she said as she represented The Woodands as an elected member of the board.
Why would someone in public office and running for reelection go to Twitter and make comments like this? Because she was given the green light by her supporters. Trump paved the way for her and others like her. Because words don’t matter to them.
Fillault and her supporters tried to paint her opponent, Carol Stromatt, as a pro-abortion liberal Democrat in what was supposed to be a non-partisan election. And in The Woodlands, which may be the reddest of red communities in Texas, electing a pro-abortion liberal Democrat to any office is impossible.
Except it’s not. Carol Stromatt defeated Laura Fillault on Tuesday. A “pro-choice liberal Democrat” defeated a Trump clone. One person commented that only 2% of The Woodlands supported Stromatt enough to vote for her. Turnout was very light. But even less voters supported Fillault enough to drive a couple of miles to vote for her.
So maybe words still matter. Maybe there are still people out there who expect dignity from their elected officials. All I know is that there were enough of us in The Woodlands to make sure that Laura Fillault and her supporters know one thing. Words matter to us.