Voters Should Stand Up to Trump's and Issa's bullying

By Sandra Fluke, contributor

This election cycle, pundits have noted parallels between the bombastic, bullying ways of far-right talk radio hosts and GOP nominee Donald Trump. The similarities do not escape me, either.

When I was verbally attacked by Rush Limbaugh in 2012 for delivering testimony before members of Congress about affordable access to birth control, people were shocked by his grossly inappropriate and sexist comments, and the story became national news. But instead of learning that the ugliness of Limbaugh is not a winning tactic, Trump has doubled down on a fear and anger-driven campaign. This behavior was bad enough coming from a talk radio show host with millions of listeners, but it's much worse coming from someone running to be the next president of the United States.

Just as people were horrified by Limbaugh's comments about me in 2012, leading to a boycott that continues to cost his show dearly, I am confident that on Election Day, voters will reject Trump. In fact, the polling shows Trump is so toxic, he may effectively drag down other Republican candidates in otherwise safe seats, including candidates like Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).

If you remember my congressional testimony from 2012 — or more likely, the blowback after — you may recall that the events all began with Issa. During the fight over the Affordable Care Act, Issa's staff organized a hearing on religious objections to birth control coverage on health insurance. Issa selected five men to voice concerns about the morality of birth control.

He believed they were more expert than I was — the one woman to provide testimony about the costs and medical ramifications of denying birth control coverage to students. He refused to allow me to testify, an attempt to silence me while the infamous all-male panel spoke about an issue impacting millions of women across our country.

My experience with Issa demonstrated his lack of respect for women, and his unwillingness to hear multiple points of view. In many ways, he uses the same tactics as his party's nominee: intimidating and bullying people who disagree with him, attempting to silence opponents instead of inviting discourse. Issa might have a more conventional approach than Trump, but the fact that he continues to stand by Trump's candidacy speaks volumes.

Despite the unbelievable ugliness throughout this campaign cycle, what gives me hope is that voters have a better option. Although Issa has safely held his seat for eight terms, his continued endorsement of Trump, and the parallels in their approach and behavior, are causing voters to turn to his very qualified opponent, retired Marine Col. Douglas Applegate.

Applegate served his country for decades in the military and has demonstrated true public service and sacrifice. He understands that Congress needs to prioritize economic policies that will better serve the middle class, including policies that ensure pay equity and a minimum wage that allows people to put food on the table and a home over their heads. He knows that affordable, accessible, high-quality healthcare is key to our nation's well-being, whether that is healthcare for students trying to finish their degrees or veterans returning from war.

Issa is facing the toughest reelection battle he's ever had, in large part because his ideology and approach are disturbingly similar to Trump's. All the while, he continues to endorse Trump and alienate many in his district whom he was elected to serve.

Neither Donald Trump nor Darrell Issa will be able to do much in the remaining days of the election to turn things around with the groups they have so callously disrespected. I hope voters are not disheartened by the nasty rhetoric of the campaign and instead exercise their right to make a better choice.

Fluke is a social justice attorney based in Los Angeles. She has endorsed Douglas Applegate