When Al Franken resigns from the US Senate he will be the most prominent American politician so far to be felled by the swirling allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct.
US President Donald Trump remains unaffected.
Let us not forget that Mr Trump continued as the Republican Party’s presidential candidate and was subsequently elected by the electoral college (though not by popular vote). This, despite at least accusations of sexual assault from at least 19 women. This despite Mr Trump’s own admission of his sexual misconduct on audio tape.
I suppose Republicans and those who don’t like the Democratic Party would say it is partisan to point out the following:
The two biggest political scalps so far are on the Democratic side of the aisle.
- • Al Franken
- • John Conyers
Mr Franken, of course, is generally regarded as a very good senator. He has behaved very properly in the weeks since the allegations first surfaced, apologising, promising transparency in the process of inquiry and re-dedicating himself to service of the people he represents. That was not enough for the Democrats. They have indulged in virtue-signalling by forcing Mr Franken to resign. As Mr Franken noted, “a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office”.
Then there is Representative John Conyers Jr., longest-serving member of the House and the longest-serving African-American Congressman in history. He’s 88 and has retired.
What about the Republican Party? It is hardly a morally irreproachable force of nature. Led by Mr Trump, it is offering voters in the southern state of Arizona a senatorial candidate who is accused of a sexual preference for adolescent girls. Senior Republicans have been silent about the revelation that Representative Blake Farenthold of Texas used $84,000 from a secret taxpayer fund to settle a lurid sexual harassment case filed against him.
Soon after Senator Franken’s announcement, one Republican Congressman, Trent Franks from Arizona, said he too would resign in January in response to sexual harassment allegations.
But President Trump remains smugly in office.
‘Twas well said that the Republicans, supposedly party of the moral majority, are closing their eyes to libertine behaviour. Meanwhile, the liberals are coming across all prudish.
The Republican Party seems to think flat denials and riding out the storm make for good politics. This does work when voters are willing to close their eyes to the ethical implications of having unashamedly dissembling politicians as their representatives.
But as someone who comes from the world’s largest democracy (India) and is proud to be a naturalized citizen of the world’s oldest democracy (the US), Indians are pretty fed up with having lying hypocrites for leaders.