In 1978, Bill Clinton allegedly raped Juanita Broaddrick.
For obvious reasons, a rape nearly forty years ago is difficult to prove, and there is certainly not enough evidence to convict Clinton beyond a reasonable doubt. However, there are, I believe, several reasons that Broaddrick’s allegation should be taken seriously. She has a witness to her alleged injury, a black lip, and several people who say that she has consistently stated for decades that Clinton raped her. Her story has been consistent since the allegations came out.
Furthermore, Clinton did have sex with Monica Lewinsky, who was at the time his employee. While his relationship with Lewinsky was consensual, that is not the act of a man who is particularly concerned about consent; most people would recognize the obvious power disparities between a White House intern and the President of the United States and at least have the grace to confine their philandering to people who have a meaningful ability to say ‘no’. While obviously there are many people who have consensual sex with their employees and never rape anyone, this does speak to Clinton’s integrity and, in my opinion, means that him raping Broaddrick would not be out of character.
But, to be honest, my true reason for supporting Broaddrick is not just about the evidence, although it is concerning to me. I support her because Hillary Clinton has made anti-rape activism and believing survivors one of the cornerstones of her campaign. (Well, technically her campaign prioritizes campus sexual assault, despite the fact that college girls are less likely to be raped than non-student girls, presumably because it is very important that we make sure that our anti-rape activism prioritizes the most privileged survivors.)
And I support her because I am appalled at the behavior of my fellow liberals. We talk a great game about supporting survivors, and then we turn around and pull out the most rape-apologist bullshit when the rapist in question is a beloved Democratic president. There are a lot more plausible reasons than “she’s faking” that she might be reluctant to accuse a powerful and popular politician who eventually became the literal President of the United States. Going through a few months of denial after a traumatic experience is perfectly normal and reasonable behavior. And the fact that she can’t prove her rape in a court of law does not mean she was never raped.
“I support survivors” shouldn’t come with a footnote that says “…unless they’re politically inconvenient.”
I don’t suggest that we make our voting decisions based on whether the presidential candidate’s husband raped someone. Personal character matters less for choosing a president than positions on the issues. (Personally, I’m a three-issue voter on expanding foreign aid, increasing immigration, and not getting in wars.) Even if we did, the current Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has been accused of rape, leaving one with the unappetizing choice between a rapist and a rape-enabler. But I don’t think that voting for Hillary necessitates claiming that Broaddrick is lying or pulling out rape-apologist garbage that we would rightfully condemn otherwise.