I’ve been here at Thought Catalog for just about two years now, and am asked questions all the time from other writers. Most of them are rooted in looking for some sort of advice, career-wise or other, sometimes just inquiring in general about my life, other times it’s something completely random or almost a spam-esque emailing critiquing my entire appearance.
But without question, no time to think about it needed, the two most frequent questions I am asked are,
“How do you get a job at Thought Catalog?”
“Will you help me get this piece I wrote for TC taken down?”
Today was no exception. Around mid-afternoon an email came into my inbox with a bit of desperation attached to it, asking for my assistance in removing an article that the writer had penned some 18-months ago. They talked about how it had upset family members, how they regretted certain things they’d included in the piece, and just in general wanted my assistance in removing any trace of it from their overall body of work.
The twist about this article in particular, was that the subject matter was focused completely on the author’s support of Donald Trump.
The irony of this request coming through on the same day as Anthony Scaramucci being removed from his position in the White House after serving just 10 days was absolutely not lost on me. Whether or not the writer saw that, I don’t know.
But it got me thinking. Not only about the power that our words truly have, but what we’re supposed to do when confronted with those words and being asked to hold ourselves accountable for saying them.
I did not vote for Donald Trump, I don’t want him in office. I do not think he is even remotely qualified to hold even the most basic of political offices, the highest office in the United States therefore even less so.
So even though it makes me shudder to say policies aside, there’s something that has infiltrated the Trump Administration that is concerning outside of even political discourse and incompetence.
And that is the belief that something — be it money, power, position or anything else — makes you exempt from accountability.
It is well-documented the exorbitant number of times Donald Trump has contradicted himself or even blatantly lied in denial about something he said. Even despite claiming to have “the world’s greatest memory.”
He encouraged fist-fighting the opposing side (aka: Democrats) at a rally in 2016 even saying he would pay the perpetrator’s legal fees, only to deny it on ABC News the next month. When former Fox News correspondent Megyn Kelly questioned him during the first GOP debate about his incredibly abusive and derogatory comments about women such as calling them “fat pigs”, “dogs”, and “disgusting animals”, Trump’s response was that he never said that about anyone other than Rosie O’Donnell. Not only does that fail to justify his language, it’s completely false. In February of 2016 Trump demanded an apology from Mark Halperin claiming the political analyst made up a story about him calling Senator Ted Cruz a “pussy”…but there is video evidence of him doing exactly that.
And these are just three instances in the long history of Donald Trump’s utter lack of ownership over the choices he makes and the things that he says. Three instances in an exponential career built on illegal shortcuts and deals, complete lies and gas-lighting.
Which is why it’s no surprise that this toxicity has either seeped into or brought out something in the people working closest to him.
The latest to be impacted by the belief that simply by being associated with Trump you are immune to having to stand by the things that you say and the choices that you make is former Director of Communications, Anthony Scaramucci. In the 10 days after being appointed to the role left behind by Sean Spicer, Scaramucci was shamed in an incredibly scandalous piece in The New Yorker where he threatened to “eliminate everyone in the comms team and start over” and suggested that he’d enjoy being able to “fucking kill all the leakers.”
Scaramucci’s response to the article? See for yourself.
What Scaramucci and so many others that align themselves with Donald Trump, and even Trump himself, have in common is that when presented with the things that are not easy to defend that they themselves have said, they cower. Which let’s be honest, it’s a human response. It is far easier to throw up your hands and say, “Hey I didn’t say that!” denying your own liability or to place blame on someone misunderstanding your intent saying, “They just didn’t get what I meant!!” It’s an instinctual response that everyone has had at least once, myself included.
But it’s not a response that’s respectable.
And it’s absolutely not a response you have a right to, especially when working in one of the most powerful political offices in the world.
The belief that accountability is optional isn’t just a shrug or a drop in the bucket, or even frankly, a mistake. It’s toxic. It’s a poison.
It’s the kind of mentality that has allowed for the counselor to the President to violate federal ethics laws and get off with an oopsie. It’s the kind of mentality that is making the fact President’s son-in-law met with Russians in an attempt to gain information about his opponent seem like whatever. And while we’ll never know exactly what happened, it seems fair enough to say it’s the kind of mentality that allowed a man to be caught on tape during a Presidential election saying he wanted to “move on her like a bitch” and “grab them by the pussy” but still be elected President of the United States.
But here’s the thing about accountability: it will catch up with you.
It may take 10 days, it may take 18 months, but something or someone will eventually make you face the consequences of your actions and what you say.
Whether you’re ready and brave enough to face it or not.