In November of 2017, Leeann Tweeden alleged in a blog post and interview that Al Franken, a democratic U.S. Senator from Minnesota, forcibly kissed her on a 2006 USO tour during a rehearsal for a skit. Several days after this allegation, a woman named Lindsay Menz accused Franken of touching her inappropriately as they posed for a photo at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010. Two additional women then came forward to allege that Franken had subjected them to very similar misconduct during political events in 2007 and 2008. Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer sent the original accusations to the Senate Ethics Committee for a review, and the committee soon after announced that it was investigating the allegations. More than two dozen Democratic senators called on Franken to resign from office, and on December 7, 2017, Franken announced his intention to do just that.
While all sexual abuse and misconduct allegations must be taken seriously, the Democrats are facing a difficult situation. Republican sexual misconduct allegations surface all the time. All. The. Damm. Time. Look at our President. Remember when Alabama almost elected an accused child molester? Allegations like this surface consistently, but political parties treat such accusations with different strategies. The Republican strategy is simple: Deny. President Trump endorsed Roy Moore after the sex allegations came to light. He also supported one of his top aides, Rob Porter, after allegations of domestic violence. His February 10th tweet read [sic]: “Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused – life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?” Republicans deny sexual assault allegations and move on.
In contrast, Democrats have built their identity around the idea of being the progressive, socially-conscious party. When one of their own acts inappropriately, party protocol dictates instant excommunication. While this may be the “higher” road to take, it has resulted in the resignation and ousting of several important Democratic politicians—a critical blow to a party already in the minority.
I should be up-front: I’m not a Democrat. I’m also not a Republican. These parties are built around business interests and capitalist incentives, and I refuse to participate in a bipartisan system that neglects the will and needs of the people in favor of personal gain. Career Democrats are just as bad as career Republicans. That said, the Democratic agenda, not necessarily the politicians, is more in line with my personal values. However, I have to admit that the Republican denial strategy is far more effective than the current Democratic strategy. Here’s why.
Look at the outcomes of these allegations. Dozens of women have come forward to accuse Donald Trump of sexual abuse, even rape, yet he sits in the oval office. A handful of women have accused Al Franken of grabbing their asses during photographs, and he has resigned in disgrace. I don’t want to build a hierarchy of sexual abuse—all sexual assault should be viewed equally and treated with equal importance—but do you see what I’m getting at?
The Republican treatment of sexual assault allegations is irresponsible and disgusting. The Democratic treatment of sexual assault allegations is better, but it’s leading to party cannibalization. As more women tell their sexual abuse stories, I can only assume the Democratic party will continue to dwindle under the pressure to resign. I’m not saying that the Democrats should deny and move on, nor am I saying that they are handling allegations inappropriately. I’m trying to say that Democratic longevity is threatened by hypocrites within the party who preach social consciousness while simultaneously failing to recognize the implications of their own, inappropriate actions.