Infidelity in politics is a tale as old as time. From our founding fathers to our current president, it appears that politicians are more vulnerable to extramarital affairs than the citizens they represent. However, while affairs are traditionally wholly condemned by the public as immoral and shameful, a disturbing trend has been witnessed within the President Donald Trump presidency, effectively setting him apart from the rest. Historically, when a sex scandal breaks in politics, the mainstream media has a field day investigating the claims, leading the public into a frenzy of public condemnation and denunciation. Former North Carolina Senator, John Edwards, for example, epitomizes this claim. His extramarital affair has been established as one of the most notorious sex scandal stories in media history. Due to the widespread coverage over his affair, Edwards was ultimately forced to confront the situation and issued a public apology to the nation in 2008.
The allegations brought forth against Edwards played a large role in dismantling his 2008 Presidential Campaign from moving forward. In President Trump’s case, the circumstances differ widely. Not only did the current president have nearly 14 times more allegations brought forth against him regarding affairs, but they were accompanied by further accusations of sexual misconduct and mistreatment towards women. During Trump’s 2016 Presidential Campaign, interviews resurfaced from appearances on Howard Stern in addition to a leaked Hollywood Access tape with Billy Bush. Despite the adulterous and misogynistic allegations, Trump’s campaign not only appeared to be more successful than ever, but continued to resonate with voters. Even more disturbing, since his election, these claims have not ceased to circulate.
The latest news story features adult film star Stormy Daniels, who claims that she signed a nondisclosure agreement in addition to being offered “hush money” to keep quiet about her affair with President Trump. Daniels, during a 60 Minutes interview last week, confirmed that she engaged in sexual activity with the current president shortly after his youngest son, Barron, was born. She also cited that she received multiple threats after the sexual encounter that strongly encouraged her discretion. Although the story has garnered mild attention, it appears that the public has grown increasingly apathetic over Trump’s immoral behavior, allowing him to avoid proper accountability. While the president’s alleged behavior is shameful and degrading, I find the public’s reaction to be equally as reprehensible. Many citizens, particularly his fan base who claim to uphold ‘traditional family values’ and emphasize the importance of a devout Christian marriage, are willing to look the other way in favor of a partisan agenda.
Indifference amongst the general voting population appears to be on the rise. While sex scandals involving figures such as former President William Clinton or Congressman Anthony Weiner shocked the nation, it seems as though the public is not only unfazed when it comes to political extramarital affairs, but now almost seems to expect them. Although citizen apathy constructs a depressing commentary regarding the moral status of American society, this situation does offer a beacon of hope as well. Despite countless threats and the attempt to buy her silence, Stormy Daniels sends an almost empowering message to the public: in the face of indifference, she will not be silenced.