My combined reactions to an article on Politico about the Democratic senator Al Franken who is under fire because of inappropriate sexual behavior. There are worse violations of politicians who are not making the move to voluntarily leave. How the Franken issue must be dealt with is the subject of intense debate. Does it make the Democrats vulnerable by sending Franks out, or does it make them invulnerable by looking for the moral highground? And what is the context in which the violations must be placed? My reaction to the article:
Of course senator Al Franken should resign. He has lost his credibility. But more politicians should resign or be required to resign. There are three topics that are reason for dismissal due to a lack of morality of politicians and administrators in public administration: 1) inappropriate sexual behavior; 2) tax avoidance and a questionable tax morality of individuals (Paradise & Panama Papers etc) in combination with big money (Citizens United case: 2010) and 3) a lack of democratic awareness and insufficient respect for the Constitution and the rule of law.
It is time that a big clean-up is kept in the American party politics and all bad apples are removed from the mouth. Who knows, a good minority will have to leave. But it is undesirable for some to step out and others to remain for heavier offenses.
Concretely, it can not be that Roy Moore who repeatedly sexually assaulted minors is senator on behalf of Alabama and president Donald ‘grab them by the pussy‘ Trump who refuses to publish his tax returns stay on, while Franken is fired. A major ethical cleaning of American party politics only works if the standards are applied equally for all.
The beginning of a solution lies in the reform of the financing of campaigns and the reduction of the power of business and financial institutions. Cross-border sexual behavior is a reason for dismissal, but is not the main issue that needs to be addressed first. That is the wrong structure of the private financing of politics that partly follows from the tax avoidance by big sponsors who determine politics.
Sexually wrong behavior must be tackled, but can not be a reason to maintain the wrong structure of the American political system. Then the resignation of senator Franken and some of his colleagues does not yield anything and it is no reason to act, but rather a pretext for not acting.
If someone is accused of unaccaptable sexual behavior, this must be demonstrated credibly. Vague accusations without details and testimonies are too few. There are now four allegations by four women against Franken in the past week. From two of them the names are known (Leeann Tweeden, Lindsay Menz) and two spoke on condition of anonymity. The stories are remarkable similar, grab women at the buttocks.
It strongly seems Leeann Tweeden and Lindsay Menz tell a plausible story about the behavior of senator Franken. It has to be checked and double checked. But proven true, then a consequence must be given to it. For someone with transgressive sexual behavior, there should be no place in the DNC.
Of course, the allegations agianst Roy Moore or Donald Trump are much more serious and involve far more serious offenses than against Al Franken. And the RNC is another organization than the DNC.
So, how can that be synchronized, so that politicians with worse behavior will not stay with one organization, while politicians with lighter violations will be dismissed from the other organization? In the end it’s a political decision, as the Roy Moore issue clearly shows. Despite overwhelming, credible and irrefutable evidence, Moore is supported locally and by radical media and ultimately also by Trump. That gives exactly the wrong signal to women, society and young adults seeking their way through examples.
Synchronization is not to be expected in a corrupted and rotten political system where humanity and legality are subordinate to electoral success and influence. Influence exerted by sponsors who do not have political responsibility or are under political supervision and of whom the general public has little knowledge. In short, the most powerful can not be tackled at all.
How can a broken train be repaired during the ride? Because the American political system is certainly broken at the national level and actually too broken to be repaired with minor interventions.
It is not about Al Franken who did wrong in another time. It is about the credibility and ethics of politics. At the sexual, financial and legal level. It is not about incidents, but about a broken structure. That should be the real subject of debate. It is not about pinching bottoms or a predator that searches out shopping centers in Alabama in search of young girls. It is about the ethics of politics that should give direction to Franken, Moore and Trump.
Foto 1: Schermafbeelding van deel artikel ‘Poll: Half think Franken should resign’ van Steven Shepard voor Politico, 22 november 2017.