With a heavy heart, we watched Senator Al Franken resign, and yet by doing so, he proves that the Democratic party holds the moral high ground, as we all watch Donald Trump disgustingly campaign for Roy Moore in his bid for the Alabama Senate. Franken called out the irony of the situation even as he announced his departure.
“I of all people am aware that there is some irony that I am leaving, while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who has preyed on underage girls is running for the Senate with the full support of his party,” Franken said.
Following the initial accusation from radio personality Leeann Tweeden, Franken was immediately open to discussion on the broad conversation of improving life for women in American and hearing their voices, offering to willingly subject himself to an ethics committee review.
Tweeden’s case was connected to a longtime Trump friend, Roger Stone, who broke the news on InfoWars, an extreme right-wing conspiracy-theory-laden show. Stone had Tweeted it’s “Franken’s time in the barrel” on Twitter, using the same phrase he used to show he knew illegally stolen emails from the DNC were about to be leaked by the notorious Wikileaks. Now a celebrity, Tom Arnold, is claiming Tweeden, who he calls his friend, was “coached” by Stone.
But Tweeden made a statement to the radio station where Stone also has been a guest:
After experiencing many vile and partisan personal attacks on my credibility since I went public, I don’t blame these women one bit.
All our nearly identical experiences show that this was not a onetime failure of judgment on Senator Franken’s part, it was a clear pattern of behavior.
Tweeden then made a very surprising comment, that might indicate where she stands on Trump and Roy Moore as well, if there is no hypocrisy:
While I do not celebrate Senator Franken’s resignation, we cannot tolerate hypocrisy. We must be able to trust and respect our leaders.
After the Tweeden story, Franken says he was shocked to face further allegations from women who claimed Franken had groped them in public settings. When a Politico report was published on Wednesday, it led to a Democratic “stampede to drive Franken from office.” Franken was accused of forcibly kissing a congressional aide, which he has not admitted to.
There are many conflicting feelings for everyone today. Why should we lose Franken, who has been such an active advocate for women’s equality in the Senate as Trump, Roy Moore, and the Republican party chase after more political power and shrug off their own allegations and further impugn the character of the many women who accused them?
On that front, Bernie Sanders called for Trump to take notice and consider resigning himself.
“We have a President of the United States who acknowledged on a tape, widely seen all over this country, that he assaulted women. So I would hope that maybe the President of the United States might pay attention to what’s going on and also think about resigning,” said Sanders. “But if you point is it’s not just Al Franken, you’re absolutely right.”
Whatever the Republicans do, Democrats and the Independent Sanders showed clearly they will not take a different stance on sexual misconduct when it applies to one of their own, but there are questions remaining on why Franken’s accusations weren’t first brought before the ethics committee, as Franken himself asked for. Now, it remains unclear if Franken’s case will move on to the ethics committee, even after he announced his resignation.
Is there still a chance this story will develop further after an ethics committee review?
Going forward, Franken’s case will inform future cases of sexual misconduct. He left with humility but also cast doubt on the accusations against him, which is a story familiar to all women who come forward, regardless of the validity of the accusations.
“[…] All women deserve to be heard and their experiences taken seriously. I think that was the right thing to do. I also think it gave some people the false impression that I was admitting to doing things that, in fact, I haven’t done,” said Franken.
Truly, we know in our hearts that sexual misconduct and the mistreatment of women shouldn’t be wielded as a political weapon, or that only serves to degrade us all. In some very rare instances, allegations can be false, but most women don’t put their reputations on the line when they come forward. They generally do feel incredible pressure to remain silent, especially when positions of power and wealth are involved.
While supporting women who come forward, the standard must be held higher for our highest representatives in government. Seeing Franken leave does little to comfort those who see Trump and Moore remaining. There is a feeling that Trump, Moore, and his friend Roger Stone are probably enjoying this political defeat for Franken all too much today.
America must find a way to embrace “The Silence Breakers” while also supporting the results of fair nonpartisan investigations and the rule of law. We also have to fight to raise the bar in a climate where Trump and the GOP are sinking to new historic degrading lows. Finally, we have to recognize and accept when our own party has been at fault. No wonder there are so many mixed emotions.
See Franken’s resignation below:
Featured image: Screenshot via YouTube