Jason Scalese, Featured Contributor
Growing up, most guys I knew wanted to be an athlete. But when the dream of playing second base for the Red Sox, or holding the winner’s trophy at Wimbledon fades, we start to become more practical. Make no mistake, dreams of glory and big incomes still dominate the thought process for many, there is no reason to deny it. We start dreaming of becoming world renowned surgeons, famous trial attorneys, or maybe even President of the United States! But, by high school or college, the all too familiar and often dreaded practicality rears it’s ugly head, and the focus becomes just getting those degrees and hoping you’ve done enough to make a decent living.
I think we always know that somewhere down the road we’ll have families. Marriage, children, and a couple of dogs running around the back yard are inevitable, but I don’t think I ever spent a day thinking about becoming a father when I was growing up. I just sat there and watched what my Dad did figuring he had all of the answers, and naturally I would too when the time came. That was just part of the “real world” that most of us would never exert energy worrying about. That part was out of our control, it was just what us guys did!
Ironic now, because at 41 years old “Daddy” is the only title that really matters to me. It’s that job that keeps me up at night wondering, “Have I done enough? Am I doing a good job?” And it’s what motivates me to push in the morning, knowing that my little ones are dependent on me for a bright future.
I’ll teach them everything I can, sports, academics etc., but there will be limits. At the end of the day though, I hope if my daughter and son get anything from me, it’s a sense of good moral values and a firm playbook on how to treat other people.
The recent developments in the Presidential race have been nothing short of painful for conservatives like me. Consider this, Donald Trump as the Republican Nominee is arguably the most polarizing presidential candidate in his own party in decades, maybe ever. I’ve been stuck firmly in the middle. As a man who works professionally in politics, Republican specifically, all of the normal attempts to guilt me into voting for a candidate, have been applied. The Trump lovers have said things to me like, “by not supporting Trump you are allowing millions of babies to be aborted.” Party elites are quick to remind us that as members of Republican Central Committees it is our duty to unabashedly support the party’s nominee. Enter the “Never Trump” crowd… they drive me crazier than his supporters. As filthy as Donald Trump was to his opponents in the primary and as nasty as some of his supporters could be, most Trump supporters I know are outstanding men and women, smart, accomplished, American loving individuals. The “Never Trump” crowd, especially as seen in the realms of social media, have been more condescending and nasty to those who support him than anything I’ve ever seen. In a world where we are all so quick to let others know that they will be “unfriended” or “blocked” if they “do this” or “do that,” my daily Facebook feed seems to be filled with people counting how many people they’ve excommunicated from their social media world! It’s like kindergarten all over again where one kid is threatening the other with being kicked out of the sandbox!
So, I’ve been squarely in the middle. On policy alone, there are certainly a few items that resonate with me from Donald Trump’s platform. Once you peel back the layers of his “fire and brimstone” approach, there are positions that resonate with Republican voters. Comparing such a platform to that of Hillary Clinton, one is not hard pressed as a Republican voter to align with Trump on basic policy, even if it’s only fifty cents on the dollar.
I remain highly skeptical of his commitment to the unborn, and think it’s only a matter of time before his already compromised position on the 2nd Amendment creeps further to the middle. I’ve always been willing to hold my nose and vote for a less than perfect conservative for office. Mitt Romney was my last choice in 2012, but a more decent man running for President, there have been fewer. John McCain had some serious issues for conservatives when it came to trustworthiness, but he screamed Red, White and Blue, and having an American War Hero as President would have been very good for our country that now has public figures advocating against the National Anthem the salute of the American Flag. We’ve heard what Trump supporters have to say, George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney etc., they are all Globalists! They are RINO’s, they are establishment hacks only trying to keep their power!
As much as it pains me to say these words, Hillary Clinton was right. In the 2nd Presidential Debate on October 9, 2016, she made a remark that with past Presidential candidates she may not have agreed on policy, but never questioned their ability and fitness to serve in the office for which they were running.
Trump supporters will have us believe that a line like that was all that was needed to prove how terrible Bush, McCain and Romney must be. How can we take any candidate seriously who was praised in any form by Hillary Clinton?
The events of the past week have truly called into question the character of Republican voters, and America for that matter. Much has been made of Mr. Trump’s comments made on tape for “Access Hollywood,” eleven years ago. Trump is heard making crude comments about women and making statements akin to sexual assault. “But that was eleven years ago…” say Trump supporters. We should be much more focused on what Clinton has done recently! Well of course, I get that, and I’m sure many politicians and candidates for office have said things in the past they regret. Haven’t most people? Let’s be clear, I’m not dismissing anything he said on those tapes. He’s obviously a crude man with the potential to be enormously disrespectful to women.
Nearly a year ago, I made it clear to people that I could never vote for a man who willfully belittled a man with a disability. We all know too well that famous clip of Trump mimicking a New York Times reporter with Cerebral Palsy. I’ve written in “Red State” before of my strong objection to Trump as a candidate, as I dealt with bullies picking on my own birth defect as a youth. Such a man is in no position to be a role model to the children of our country. And yes, it is 100% expected that the President should be a role model. I grew up in a time in which the police, firefighters, enlisted men and women, astronauts, and yes, the President of the United States, sat on a pedestal because it was expected that these men and women were such that we as kids should be following.
We should not cede that expectation now just because we fear Hillary Clinton. I was in college when her husband was President and went through his sexual scandals. Bill Clinton by all accounts is a sexual deviant, maybe even a rapist, but at minimum, a serial adulterer. Because of Bill Clinton, an already diminished value system in our country was further destroyed. “It depends on what the definition of is…is…!” Extramarital sexual acts became more acceptable, provided a certain line was not crossed. I wonder how many men channeled their best Bill Clinton when caught with their pants down? Teenagers soon learned that certain forms of sexual contact was really not that special and promiscuity was perfectly fine under modern day America, after all, a very popular President got away with it! Hey, the guy played the Sax on “Arsenio”, what else did you need?
Now, Trump supporters are quick to reference Bill Clinton, and the defense Hillary ran for him in fighting off and attacking his accusers. Bill Clinton’s indiscretions became a “right-wing conspiracy!” Naturally, he could not possibly be held accountable for his actions. Now, Donald Trump’s staunchest supporters are running to his defense talking about just how bad Bill Clinton was, and how awful Hillary was for defending him! Well of course, no one is giving the Clinton’s a pass. Criticizing Trump is not a waiver of the scandalous ways of the Clintons, and it’s absolutely ridiculous to act as if that is the case.
We, as Republicans, need to be better. We, as conservatives, need to expect more from the Republican party. We need to regain the moral high ground in this country, because if we assume that it is okay to accept such indecency in our party’s nominee for President just because the other guys allowed it, then how will we be able to set an expectation that the President be a person of strong values and decency? Just because the Democratic Party survived a sexual deviant as a President, does not mean that the Republican Party will be so lucky. Consider what is in Donald Trump’s past, how sure are we to expect a Trump Presidency to be that much better? And if we can’t demand decency of our nominee as conservatives and as Republicans, shouldn’t we at minimum expect better as parents?
Alas, we come to the reason I truly needed to pen a few thoughts on the events of the past few days. As disappointing as the remarks to Access Hollywood may have been, I’m disturbed to see one particular set of comments from Mr. Trump being virtually ignored.
“You would be bailing me out of jail…” was the remark I made to my wife this morning when discussing the revelation of comments made by Donald Trump on the Howard Stern show. I’ll admit, I was part of the problem just 48 hours ago when I defended the news reports that Donald Trump had said it was “Okay to call his daughter a piece of *ss.” He didn’t say it, but he “okayed” it. I hardly gave him a pass, but conceded that the headlines were completely disingenuous. I reacted way too soon. Thinking about it further, I found myself only amazed that he had the ability to give such permission to Howard Stern. Imagining my 3 year old daughter, perhaps 20 years from now being referenced to as a “piece of *ss…”, I quickly found myself reminded of why it’s probably good that I don’t own a gun. My mind raced through famous movie scenes of men and their daughters and I found myself realizing that this is not just a matter of Republicans and conservatives needing to be held to a higher standard. I’ll go as far as to say this is not just political. Men need to be held to a higher standard.
I played pretty much every sport there was to play growing up. In college I traveled on buses through the southeast and played for a coach who made sure that we visited almost every "Hooters" in existence! We had our fun, and we bantered back and forth as many men do, but the kind of comments from Mr. Trump were just not a part of it and I’m shocked to hear the number of people calling this kind of crude talk, normal local room banter. Sure, we joked around about the looks of women we found attractive, and maybe there were even times the details got a bit more concrete, but even as a bunch of rowdy college guys, the comments were nothing like the words that came out of his mouth.
But even with those revelations, I was almost ready to just finish the campaign season comatose as so many in between the “Pro-Trump” and “Never Trump” have, beaten to death by the negativity on both sides, until the Howard Stern comments were made public.
In what scenario does anyone think that the way he has talked about his daughter publicly is acceptable? Character Toby Ziegler from “The West Wing” famously said he would “napalm Yellowstone” if anyone hurt his kids. I can only imagine what would my reaction would be to someone making these comments about my daughter.
As a Catholic, I’ve grown up with the understanding that those seeking forgiveness will earn it. I’ve asked many times. I’m a flawed man and have made my mistakes. If we are to believe that Mr. Trump is a changed man and should be forgiven for things he said in the past, then what do we think about the remarks made about the handicapped NY Times journalist? That was just under one year ago.
I believe that an addict to alcohol or drugs, or a man who went astray and dishonored his wife, can be redeemed. I believe in forgiveness, and I believe in second chances.
But, I just ask that you stop and think of the men you know, your fathers, your brothers, under what circumstance would you ever expect for them to speak or allow any man to speak of their daughters in the way Howard Stern was permitted with Donald Trump? And it wasn’t just a simple acknowledgement of Stern’s statements, Trump himself was heard making comments about his daughter’s figure and voluptuousness. There are mistakes I believe a man can make in life and be forgiven, disrespecting your own gifts from God, your children, your daughter, I’m just not able to find such forgiveness in my heart this time.
I’m not voting for Hillary Clinton and I reject the ongoing silly premise by Trump supporters that not supporting him is the equivalent of supporting her. It’s not! But my obligation is not to party, not even to country, both of which I love very much. The greatest responsibility I have in this lifetime is to raise my children to have respect for each other, and for those around them and to be decent people. I have been exceptionally fair during this election season to assure I’ve given my party’s nominee the most benefit of a doubt I possibly could. I still pray that this man running on our ticket finds a way to motivate me to pull the lever for him. I have not given up all hope.
But, if elected, and if he serves eight years, my daughter will be eleven years old at the end of his Presidency, approaching middle school and approaching the time when boy’s most definitely become more aware of girls. This county took a major step back in values when Bill Clinton was President, but even worse because of the ongoing accommodations made to his indiscretions. I can’t imagine how I could ever say “Yes” to my daughter if she looks at me at 11 years old and says, “Daddy… did you vote for him?” I can’t imagine having my son hear of the things that Mr. Trump has said about women, about his own daughter, and at 9 years old assume it’s okay to talk to women in the way Mr. Trump has.
And mind you, in my little diatribe tonight I actually envision an 8 year Trump Presidency. 8 years in which our kids can grow up with a man who sees nothing wrong with someone calling his daughter a “piece of *ss” publicly.
I want to be able to vote for this man. I want to be able to just vote and get it all over with, and I do want a Republican President, and I most certainly do not want Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office. And just maybe Mike Pence as Vice President is enough to motivate me, but it’s less than 30 days out from the election, 7:15pm at night, with pictures of my little ones in front of me as I finish up the night’s work, and for now at least, I just can’t do it!
Jason Scalese is the Managing Partner for Fusion Strategies Political Consulting. He served as the California State Director for the Ted Cruz for President 2016 campaign. Jason is a veteran campaign and finance manager for State Legislative and Municipal Campaigns. Jason has served as a California Republican Party Delegate from 2008 to present, and a member of the San Mateo County Republican Party from 2007 to present. Jason served as the Outreach and Volunteer Director for Chuck DeVore for US Senate in 2010. He also served as the Grassroots Chair for Fred Thompson for President in 2008. In the 2012 Presidential election he held leadership roles with both Hermain Cain and Newt Gingrich. When not working in politics, Jason has coached private, high school, and collegiate tennis, and serves on the board of the United States Tennis Association. Jason grew up in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and has been a resident of the Golden State of California for 18 years. Jason's first political project was waiving signs over the freeway for George H W Bush when in high school in 1992 with his little sister who was only 10 years old at the time. His first official campaign position was as a college coordinator for then Gubernatorial Candidate George Allen in 1993. Jason obtained a History and Political Science Degree from Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk, Virginia. Jason currently resides in Burlingame, CA with his loving wife and their two beautiful children.
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