One things for sure, sex is an important part of presidential primaries and elections. It is part of the texture of the campaigns. It is implicit in today’s key policy debates, and, of course, sex can be a personal dimension of the contest as well. Witness 2016’s race!

It’s clear that Republicans are more conservative when it comes to issues like gay and reproductive rights, including contraceptives and abortion. But there is also a divide between the parties in how they view the roles of men and women and how they view the rights of each. Nothing could be more telling than what’s happened recently.

In the Democratic corner, we have Clinton and Sanders running. They have been respectful of each other and focused on issues. When it comes to sexuality issues and reproductive rights, they have very similar – and liberal – views. Criticism of each other is rarely personal and mostly subtle in tone.

Not so the remaining Republican candidates! This week all hell broke loose between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. People were both fascinated and taken aback by what happened – almost like watching a particularly elaborate train wreck in progress. Donald Trump is well known as someone who can be condescending to women, who objectifies them, and puts them on a pedestal when he likes. He sometimes reminds me of Italy’s Berlusconi, who incites envy in some men over his garish lifestyle and ability to party with beautiful and compliant women. He also has been seen as a playboy who flaunts his wealth and “appeal” to women. Cruz, despite his professionally successful wife, speaks to a conservative view of women who deserve a loyal and religious husband and who are expected to be in ways subservient to the head of the household. So it was shocking to see both candidates use the other’s wife as a political chip in the Presidential card game.

In case you missed it, Cruz who preaches about the sanctity of marriage and moral behavior, is also highly unpopular among his own party with a reputation for being slick and sleezy in politics. Last week, he stood by as a PAC aligned with his campaign put out an ad showing Trump’s wife, Melania, in a near-nude photo from a previous GQ magazine article. As pictures of Presidential candidate’s wives go, it was highly inappropriate and designed to offend Evangelical Christians – particularly Mormon women in Utah, and, I suppose, Donald Trump. Well, it worked well on Trump – I’m not sure how well it worked on Mormon women. Trump immediately fired back through Twitter threatening to “spill the beans” on Cruz’s wife Heidi. He then tweeted a montage of two pictures – his wife looking angelic and Heidi Cruz in an unflattering pose. And so the fight began with hot accusations and recriminations. It’s unclear where this will go, but be assured that anything’s possible. At this writing Cruz has been accused by the notorious National Inquirer of engaging in multiple affairs. And, we’re only in March with months to go till the election.

It’s ironic. In an age where the internet and lowered journalistic standards make it impossible for a politician and other celebrities to have a private life, politicians must be very careful to avoid any compromising situations that could undermine their candidacy. And yet, here’s two front-running Republican candidates for the Presidency of the United States going to the same gutter-level that outlets like the National Inquirer and TMZ do. Most people ignore such idiocy. But now, the two Republican front runners are
using the same digital publicity channels other low-end outlets would use to shame the other and gain an advantage.

Given their beliefs and behavior, I wonder how these two candidates truly view sexuality and it’s meaning in life? Is it to express personal power and influence over others along with personal pleasure alone? And are sexual behavior and sexual orientation something that they can control and mandate in others? Or, on the other hand, is sexuality a more complex dimension of our lives that requires freedom to fully express ourselves and find intimacy with others? I would guess they prefer the former view – though they might not express it that way.

Well, I think people were enjoying the mix-ups coming from the Republican campaigns but it has reached a new, sexist low that has turned people off.

Whatever you believe about the campaign so far, this national primary has been an important window into the policies and beliefs of the candidates running for both parties. We’ll have more on the contrasts between the policies on sexuality that each party favors in an upcoming blog.

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