Donald Trump at this point evokes pity, but not mercy. His candidacy for the US Presidency is dead in the water, and he has been exposed to the whole world as a salacious groper of women, who boasts about his exploits in the nudge-nudge wink-wink way that the whole feminist movement has rebelled against.
At the same time, too much sympathy should not be wasted on the Republican Party. After all, it elected Trump as its nominee for President. The process was much less opaque than that by which candidates to such office are selected by parties in other countries. The media which is now reporting about the sleaze factor in Trumps life should have offered these reports before, when he was running for the nomination, rather than for the Presidency itself.
Trump and his campaign staff have denied these reports, and have tried to turn them around by claiming that the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, had been contemptuous of the various women who claimed to have been assaulted by her husband, Bill Clinton, who will go down in history as the President who was impeached over an affair he had with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky.
In other words, the message is that Ms Clinton has problems of her own. She might well be the first woman to be a major-party presidential nominee, but she is also a woman whose husband cheated on her. Trump, on the other hand, is the archetypal cheater.
The dirty little secret is that men of power have too often felt that they are not bound by conventional rules. Monogamy is the norm, even in societies where polygamy is legal, mainly because human beings, like all other creatures, are equally divided into male or female. Historically, the Roman Republic was established after the kings were expelled over the King having assaulted a woman. Later, when the Empire in turn replaced the Republic, the Emperors lived exceedingly lascivious lives. Augustus may have been strictly monogamous, but as early as his first successor, Tiberius, moral standards were abandoned.
As Bernard Shaw wrote, The upper classes think they are above morals. The USA is not an exception in that it has allowed its rich and powerful license, while expecting its elected officials to maintain a façade of propriety. Complications arose because the feminist movement did not stop at obtaining the suffrage for women, but also property rights, and divorce rights. However, women were subordinated, and kept out of politics even though they now had the vote.
During the 19th century, US Presidents private lives were completely off-limits, and political leaders were expected to relax with women not their wives. In the 20th, they had to maintain a public appearance of being happily married. The Republicans demanded that candidates had to be absolutely proper. Indeed, Nelson Rockefeller, a former Governor of New York state, was denied the Republican nomination in 1964, being greeted at the Convention by cries of You dirty lover! He had divorced his first wife, and married a second. The ultimate nominee, Barry Goldwater, went down to what was then a record defeat of 16 million votes.
The winner of that election, Lyndon B. Johnson, has succeeded John F. Kennedy, whose assassination made him iconic, but which should not hide that he was a fearful tomcatter, even though he had married a society beauty, Jacqueline Bouvier.
It is perhaps ironic that Trump is in so much trouble, for it is Democrats who have produced some of the worst offenders. Gary Hart was not even the Democrat nominee when he was shot down over an affair, while Clinton is known. On the other hand, Jimmy Carter was squeaky clean.
The religious right demanded that kind of perfection, and was mostly in the Republican camp, where it remains. However, Ronald Reagan, who made it so solid a component of the Republican base, was himself divorced and remarried, which made the Rockefeller episode seem strangely irrelevant. Trump, like Reagan, is divorced and remarried. However, Reagans original work had been in Hollywood, which had popularized a kind of lifestyle where marriage was not a monogamous, once-in-a-lifetime, bond.
Trumps relationship to money had earlier symbolised the problem democracy was having with it. His use of the tax laws to avoid paying taxes, even though filthy rich, showed how the ability to legislate tax laws could be abused. Now, it seems, he is the symbol of another problem, that of sexual impropriety. If democracy includes the acknowledgement that women are equal human beings, then the cult of political impunity cannot continue. Trump is not being derided for his deeds, as for the contemptuous attitude towards women they show. That contemptuousness is extended to blacks, Hispanics and Muslims, who find themselves marginalised along with women.
For Pakistanis, the Trump example is instructive. It cannot be dismissed as another example of Western bad behavior, or something that will happen in the future. Money is reflected in the fuss raised by the PTI over corruption allegations arising out of the Panama Leaks, and sex in the PML-N response, which includes raking PTI chief Imran Khan over the coals for old affairs he is supposed to have had.
There is a view that embezzlement is a public concern because of the involvement of public money, but private lives must be off-limits. With the media dedicated to providing voters information so that they might make an informed choice, private lives might well be relevant. Much of the comment against Trump is that his shenanigans indicate his unfitness to have his finger on the nuclear button. There is the vulnerability-to-blackmail argument, and the inability to handle personal life indicating inability to handle public challenges (which Imran still faces because of his two divorces). However, Trump really faces the antipathy he has generated among female voters, and this antipathy is because he stands revealed as a sleazebag. Previously, sleazebags have been elected President, and since 1920 with female votes, and the right to privacy of those sleazebags has trumped the right to knowledge of the voters.
Trump does not represent what is wrong with US democracy, but US democracy itself. After all, he is contesting the US Presidency, and thus the position of the leader of the world. He has obtained the nomination of a major party by the orthodox means of winning primaries. He represents a strain of misogyny and prejudice that exists, deny or decry it as anyone will. He remains a candidate because so many people will vote for him to stop Clinton from being elected. Similarly, much of her support is actually a stop-Trump movement. Never before has there been so much distrust for both candidates.
Though it seems he has self-destructed, US democracy seems still on course to producing someone more misogynistic and prejudiced than Trump, and making him President. Imagine if the Democrats had also had a Trump-like figure for a candidate rather than a wronged woman. And that is perhaps the worst of this episode: Hillary Clinton will enter the White House as Bills wife. And he was as Trump-like a figure as the Democrats have had.