Sexual Misconduct

Alan Zendell, December 8, 2017

One of the more astounding aspects of the new reality of Trumpism is demurring on political correctness and just telling it like it is. Personally, I think that would be a great idea if it were combined with telling the truth and it applied equally to everyone. But our president equates dispensing with political correctness with saying anything at any time regardless of whether it’s true and without regard for basics like common decency and courtesy.

When Al Franken gave the speech that may or may not have been his resignation, yesterday, he quite correctly and appropriately compared the sexual misconduct accusations against him with the very well documented accusations against Trump and Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore. He received a lot of flack for doing so, despite the fact that he said nothing that wasn’t clearly on the record.

I wish one of the major polling organizations would interview a sample of people who think Franken should resign to find out what they think of Moore and Trump and whether there is any rational argument for the idea that Franken is more guilty and less fit to serve than either of them. All the White House had to say in response was that the president addressed the issue during the campaign, and the American people elected him.

The issues of sexual harassment and assault have been confounded with politics far too long, and as long as that continues they will never be purged from our governing bodies. An impressive number of people in Congress are now standing up for that principle, though notably, most of them are women. When thirty democratic senators urged Franken, a colleague most of them liked and considered a friend to resign, they were making an important statement about country over party and politics.

Republicans quickly pointed out that Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton would replace Franken with another Democrat, but that’s almost beside the point. An eloquent, popular spokesperson for progressive values, one who has even been suggested as a future presidential candidate cannot be replaced politically by appointing an unknown member of the same party.

The hypocrisy of the situation is underlined by the sudden turnabout and/or silence by key Republicans on the subject of Roy Moore. Politicians who took the moral high ground and suggested that Moore was unfit and ought to step aside only did so when they perceived no personal risk or political disadvantage. But as soon as it became clear that their sudden attack of moral conscience might cost them a vote in the Senate, the Mitch McConnells and Paul Ryans in our government suddenly lost their voices. Morally, it can’t get any worse than that.

Any reasonable person with a sense of fairness can see that. I keep thinking nothing could amaze me any more this year, but I continue to be shocked by what I hear people saying. Most startling of all is what I hear women say. How can any woman, hearing the heartfelt pleas for support by all the victims of sexual harassment and assault continue to turn a deaf ear?

This isn’t one of those issues, like whether or not we ought to risk nuclear war over North Korea, when reasonable people might feel justifiably impotent. In the end it will make no difference what individuals like you and I think when decisions like that are made. But we are absolutely not powerless on the issue of sexual misconduct. We can fix it simply by voting, all alone in that little booth where only we know whom we cast our ballot for.

Furthermore, this is an issue that is extremely sensitive to public pressure and outcry. The people of Alabama get to address it directly in a few days, but the rest of us don’t have to wait until the next election. This is a time when we should be channeling our anger and outrage through our keyboards, writing emails to our senators and representatives at all levels of government.

It’s really easy, requiring almost no effort. You don’t know how to reach them? I’ll make it simple for you. Just click on A fifth-grader could do it. Scroll down the easy to use website to find your representative or senators and click on their email links. Tell them clearly that you demand zero tolerance on sexual misconduct and that the expenditure of tax dollars to cover-up nondisclosure agreements must end today.

Don’t be shy. Do it, then give yourself a well-deserved hug.

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