Columns, Opinion

Quandaries and Quagmires: Assault is nonpartisan

When the allegations against Harvey Weinstein were fresh, Fox News jumped at the opportunity to disparage an ostensibly deeply liberal institution, Hollywood. On his show, Sean Hannity said gleefully, “The uproar over Harvey Weinstein, it continues to evolve every hour of every day as more and more Hollywood elites are being exposed as hypocrites responsible for covering up the deeds of a predator. ” Suffice it to say, coverage by conservative outlets of Fox News’ multiple sex scandals were neither as outraged nor as sustained.

But I do not write this to imply that liberals are innocent. Although figures like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey are facing their long overdue reckoning, we still have skeletons in our closet. Bill Clinton’s behavior in this department is certainly worthy of careful scrutiny.

It seems that it should be completely unnecessary to point out the following: Sexual predation stretches across all conceivable boundaries, from political affiliation to socioeconomic status to geography. These cases are also, of course, a complete mutilation of what any of these groups stand for. The people whose vision of an ideal world is one of sexual assault and misery are few and far between.

Yet it seems that one of them is the president of the United States — which speaks to a troubling tendency in U.S. politics. There really is no excuse for having elected Donald Trump as president, given what we knew about him before the election. Nonetheless, we chose him. Policy differences aside (of which I have many), he is a man who confessed, on tape, to breaking the law in one of the most heinous ways imaginable. How can he possibly be fit to enforce the law? The majority of people who voted for Trump were not voting for an authoritarian regime where those at the top are extended the privilege of sexual gangsterism. They just believed that it would be better to have a self-admitted sex criminal for a president than Hillary Clinton.

But before we cast blame too heavily on the conservative side, consider the sins of Bill Clinton. Despite this, liberals supported him during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, including self-avowed feminists.

The point here is twofold. We seem to think that one another’s philosophies are so gut-wrenchingly horrible that we are justified in the protection of sexual bullies in our own ranks. Otherwise, there might be another Democrat or another Republican seated in the Oval Office. We are also desperate to argue that the existence of predators within each other’s parties is evidence of the fundamental sickness of the other. Neither is accurate. That we spend so much of our time laboring under these delusions speaks to the deep and growing divide in American politics.

Increasing partisanship truly is a cancer to this country. It has reared its head in the recent string of sex abuse scandals, where we are desperate to prove the other side monstrous and our side exculpable. It seems we are unable to agree that regardless of party loyalty, sexual assaulters should be kept out of public office or important media positions. Although O’Reilly and Weinstein and many others are facing their just comeuppance, it all reads as too little too late.

But it seems now that there may be hope. Accusations are starting to flow. Change is possible. Roy Moore has yet to drop out of the Alabama Senate race, but the vast majority of Republican Senators are actively encouraging him to do so. Victims are stepping forward to accuse Al Franken, widely seen as a Democratic hopeful for the 2020 nomination. Now is the perfect chance for both liberals and conservatives to test their mettle. On this particular issue, there may be hope for us yet. Even if both Franken and Moore go from outside pressure, it still seems unlikely that this will bring the two parties together and bridge the ever-widening gulf between those on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

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