Editorial: Rapinoe's challenge to Trump
US women's soccer captain Megan Rapinoe has boldly seized the nation’s attention with the team’s second World Cup victory to challenge the establishment and status quo.
First and foremost she has been a leading champion of equal pay for women in sports, and rightfully so. For the past several decades, the U.S. Women’s Soccer team has been among the superstars, while the U.S. men’s team has struggled. And yet, pay for the women in a World Cup championship is a fraction of what members of the men’s team would earn. And it’s not about television draw, either. The U.S. women’s team consistently draws more viewers than the U.S. men’s team. Pure and simply, there is a gender bias in pay between the teams, and it ought to be fixed.
But that’s not the issue Americans are talking about this week. Rather, it’s her challenge to Trump to be a president who cares about all Americans, as she said in a very articulate conversation with CNN’s Anderson Cooper in a Tuesday interview that has gone viral. Specifically, she told Trump his message excluded too many Americans and she challenged him to do better.
"Your message is excluding people,” she said to the camera when asked what she would say to the president. “You're excluding me, you're excluding people that look like me, you're excluding people of color, you're excluding Americans that maybe support you.” She challenged the president to be more inclusive and respond to the needs of all Americans. “You have an incredible responsibility as the chief of this country to take care of every single person, and you need to do better for everyone."
But even that isn’t at the heart of what Trump and his supporters are bemoaning in the aftermath of Rapinoe’s comments. Rather, Trump is riled up about Rapinoe’s point-blank refutation to visit the White House as long as Trump is there.
As is typical of Trump, the story is about a slight to him; a refutation of who he is and of the repressive and backward policies he espouses. Trump twists that personal slight and riles up his base over a contrived charge that Rapinoe should be proud of the nation she represents — as if she isn’t.
“Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team. Be proud of the Flag that you wear," he, of course, Tweeted.
Rapinoe and her teammates are the ones making history with their superb play, talent and work ethic. They are the ones advocating for fair pay, equality in the world of sports, but also beyond that. They have been expounding a message of equality among all Americans, regardless of race, gender or sexual preference.
The president, on the other hand, has provoked white nationalism at every turn during his campaign and since his election; his tax policies greatly favored the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans while enacting polices that have hurt the middle class and poor; he continues to undermine public health care for those who can’t afford private insurance and his continual degradation of the environment (for the benefit of coal, gas and oil companies) will ultimately most hurt those who can least afford it. And it’s Trump who disrespects America’s strong democratic institutions and has sought to tear down the rule of law (favoring dictatorships over governments run by and for the people) almost every day of his presidency — not to mention telling now over 10,000 documented lies in his first two years in office. As president, that’s pathetic.
Aa a person, Trump used family contacts and favors to get into college, performed poorly in school and college, cheated on taxes, lied about a born spur to keep from serving in the military, used bankruptcy laws to dump the consequences of his bad decisions on others, lost hundreds of millions of dollars of his father’s money and ultimately lied his way to a modicum of success playing a dislikable rear-end of a mule on television — all before using Russia’s help to misinform millions of American voters and sway just enough voters in a few key state’s to win an unlikely bid as president.
In comparison, Rapinoe has used her own skills, hard work and bravado to be a champion of champions.
The contrast between the two is stunning.
One raised in privilege and stained by the greed of elitism, and yet it is he who tries to claim the patriotic upper hand. The other, a woman who rose to prominence by her own hard work and by her leadership ability was chosen co-captain of America’s best sports team in recent times.
Rapinoe makes the most of this with her acceptance of other invitations to Washington, D.C. and to New York City for the team’s ticker tape parade. She makes it clear she is not raining on America’s parade, but rather on Trump’s misguided vision.
The team has gladly accepted numerous invitations to visit Washington, D.C., the House Speaker, and a bipartisan Congress that would honor the team for its victories and vision.
"This is such a special moment for us,” she told Cooper, “and to be able to sort of leverage this moment and talk about the things that we want to talk about and to celebrate like this with the leaders of our country is an incredible moment. So, yes to AOC, yes to Nancy Pelosi, yes to the bipartisan Congress, yes to Chuck Schumer — yes to anyone else that wants to invite us and have a real substantive conversation..."
Which, of course, leaves Trump out of that limelight.
"I don't think anyone on the team has any interest in lending the platform that we've worked so hard to build, and the things that we fight for, and the way that we live our life — I don't think that we want that to be co-opted or corrupted by this administration," Rapinoe said.
And does anyone deny she is right that Trump would have used their presence to glorify himself, or would have called them “losers” had they fallen a goal short?
Rapinoe, understanding what greatness is, played her hand well. The president, once again, looks shallow and petty in comparison.