Two weeks ago, allegations of sexual assault against senate candidate Roy Moore emerged. These numerous claims include pursuing a relationship with a then 14 year-old, sexual assault of a 16 year-old and inappropriate conduct that led to the republican from Alabama being banned from a local mall.
In the wake of the scandal, more than a dozen republican senators (including John McCain, Bob Corker, Lindsay Graham and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) denounced Moore. They called for him to step aside and quit the special election for the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions. During these allegations and calls to step aside from within his party, Moore insinuated that the claims are art of a political conspiracy against him and has refused to drop out of the race. Notably, the President and those close to him are seemingly straddling both sides of the ‘line of condemnation.’ On one hand, the President qualified a condemnation by adding ‘only if true’ — at the same time the President has made clear that voting for Moore is a better option than Moore’s democratic opponent Doug Jones, tweeting that “The last thing we need in Alabama and the U.S. Senate is a Schumer/Pelosi puppet who is WEAK on Crime, WEAK on the Border, … Jones would be a disaster!”
Less than a week later, allegations of sexual assault against Democratic Senator Al Franken were brought to light by Leeann Tweeden. These included an incident of unwanted advances and a taking of a picture of a sleeping Tweeden in a compromising position. Although thoroughly apologizing and subjecting himself to an investigating, Franken deservingly received the same sort of criticism that Moore faced.
In the wake of the Franken scandal, Kate Harding, someone who identifies as a feminist, argued in the Washington Post that it would not be in the best interest of women for Franken to step down. Using a justification of pragmatism, Harding asserts that a Democrat, even one who has been proven to objectify women, would be better for women in the long term than risking the seat to a replacement or Republican. While she may be right about the political consequences of losing a seat occupied by a progressive Democrat, I believe that it is not in the long-term best interest of women for Franken to keep his seat in the United States Senate. I hold the same feelings towards anyone else currently in or running for political office as well. Sexual harassment and assault is not a partisan issue. It transcends political parties and we cannot allow the topic to be politicized. Sexual assault against women has historically been underreported. Even if allegations or ‘whisperings’ surface, the political careers and aspirations of men in power have been privileged over the safety and well-being of an uncountable amounts of victims. Although the outrage has been vehement against the recently accused, we as Americans are coming to a crossroads. Plainly, it is a case of right versus wrong. Giving merit (in the case of Roy Moore) to claims that allegations are part of a wider conspiracy against you and the alt-right sets a dangerous precedent, and are ludicrous and narcissistic. Hiding behind statements of condemnation with the qualifier ‘only if true’ might be worse.
The scariest part of the whole situation is, is that even if the President wanted to, he can’t condemn Moore. Franken admitted to the allegations so to the President he is fair game, but due to the content of the infamous Access Hollywood/Billy Bush tape by condemning Moore he’d also be committing political suicide — something that this President is unwilling to do.
The moment that we definitively trade votes in the Senate and in the House for the sense of security of our mothers, sisters and wives is a moment I hope never comes. Among other things, from a global perspective we will lose the entirety of the already diminished moral authority left remaining. Most importantly, we will lose the support of women domestically. I will not act like I have all of the answers, but a start would be unequivocally rebuking men, especially those in positions of power who harass and assault women — regardless of political affiliation.