The Donald Trump Affluenza Diagnosis That Could Help This Election Make Sense
Do you remember the affluenza teen? In 2013, Ethan Couch was sentenced to 10 years of probation instead of receiving any prison time for driving drunk and causing a crash that killed four people and severely injured others. The light sentence was, in part, due to his attorney's "affluenza" defense, which argued that, well, Couch was too rich, privileged, and spoiled to have known any better. Doing something awful and not having to take any responsibility for it? That sounds like someone else you might know of, and maybe it's time to consider whether the affluenza defense is being used for Donald Trump.
Hear me out. "Ethan learned that you should be able to do what you want to do when you want to do it," his attorney said when arguing that Couch's parents did not teach the privileged teen right from wrong. His mother said she didn't remember ever disciplining him. And the legal system upheld that unfortunate standard when, instead of punishing him for killing four people, it decided that, yes, he didn't know right from wrong, so he again shouldn't be punished.
Trump has shown time and time again that he believes he can do what he wants to do when he wants to do it. He has shown that he does not have remorse for his offensive words and actions. And many people in the United States have sadly shown that they will not hold him responsible.
As a quick rundown, Trump has called Mexicans rapists and criminals; called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States; said a journalist who challenged him had "blood coming out of her wherever"; said a prisoner of war was not a hero; mocked a disabled man; advocated for killing suspected terrorists' families (which is a war crime); referred to his penis on a national debate stage; incited violence at his rallies by saying he himself would like to punch a protester; criticized a Gold Star family; said black people were living in hell; falsely claimed Hillary Clinton started the "birther" movement; lied to the American public about the things he has and has not done; and repeatedly proved that he does not know what a president does.
Those are only words, you say? Let's not forget that the for-profit Trump University has allegedly scammed people out of their money through a ripoff scheme. Trump denies any wrongdoing. The Trump Foundation is being investigated to see if it is compliant with the law and to see how exactly it spends the money it claims is being used for charitable purposes. A Trump spokeswoman said Trump is concerned about the "political motives" of the investigation but will cooperate fully. Trump has admitted to not paying federal taxes for years, despite claiming to be a billionaire. And multiple women have alleged that Trump has kissed or groped them without their consent, reportedly giving action to those words he said in the Access Hollywood tape. Trump has denied those allegations, calling them a "fabrication."
Out of that litany of offensive statements and allegations made against him, Trump has made a total of one apology — for the words he said in the Access Hollywood tape, which he brushed off as "locker room talk" and not bragging about sexual assault. He has refused to apologize for anything else.
Eric Boyles, whose wife and daughter were killed by Couch, said in 2015, "Never once has Ethan apologized in any shape or form."
Along with the belief that they can say and do whatever they want, these men who undeniably have "affluenza" believe they don't need to apologize when their words or actions cause harm to others. In fact, Trump has gone so far as to blame other people for his mistakes. He claimed Clinton started the birther movement against Obama. He blamed Megyn Kelly for "attacking" him during a presidential debate when she asked him questions. He blamed a question for his own answer. He claimed Clinton and the media are in cahoots over the sexual assault allegations in an attempt to derail his campaign. All of these, of course, are a way to say, "It's their fault, not mine."
And unfortunately, along with affluenza come enablers. Four months before he killed four people while driving drunk, Couch had been caught urinating in a parking lot while drunk. He was 15. Inside the truck was a naked 14-year-old girl, along with beer and vodka. He was fined and required to complete both an alcohol class and community service. His mother paid the fines. The class and community service were never completed. When asked by a lawyer after the second instance — that ended in the loss of life — if she understood that not punishing him for his actions would likely lead to similar situations in the future, Tonya Couch, Ethan's mom, said, "I really didn’t think that that would happen again."
Trump has a host of enablers who give him the space to continue saying and doing the things he says and does. He has a running mate who stands by him, surrogates who apologize for him, and millions of supporters who defend his every move.
In fact, CNN held an interview with a group of women who say they are voting for Trump and asked him about his comments that include, "grab them by the p---y," "you can do anything," "I don't even wait," as well as his agreeing to allow Howard Stern to call his daughter a "piece of ass." The group of women declared that they all still supported him and that while they would have been offended by his comments if he had said them in front of women, the fact that he said it with just another guy makes it "locker room talk" because boys will just be boys, right? Or because the "locker room talk" was 11 years ago, he must have changed, right? Trump was 59 years old when that video took place. If he didn't know he was wrong then, what makes you think he knows now?
Couch is known for the affluenza defense mostly because it rightly caused outrage in the nation. Yet, here we have the Republican presidential nominee vying for the highest office in the land all while suffering from one of the worst affluenza cases that's ever been seen, and some people still aren't doing a damn thing about it.
If you'll remember, Couch and his mother fled to Mexico after video surfaced showing him drinking alcohol, which is a violation of his probation. He was extradited back to the United States, where a judge finally sentenced him to nearly two years in prison in 2016.
It took years for Couch to finally be held at least partly responsible for his actions. Considering the list of offensive things Trump has said and questionable things he did, perhaps as we near November, the American public will finally hold Trump responsible — with their vote.