Why I did not call for Franken's resignation
Yesterday Senator Al Franken announced in a speech that he will resign his Senate seat. He still denies allegations of sexual harassment and was ready to fully cooperate with a Senate ethics investigation, but that will not happen now. Despite testimonials and support from many women who worked with him and know him well, many of his Senate colleagues decided to call for his resignation.
The national catharsis over pent-up reports of assault or harassment is good if it brings some abusers to justice, stops future abuse, and makes the world safer and fairer—especially for women and girls. It should also force an examination of how tough it is for victims to come forward and why they too often do not. But like all moments of catharsis, it has the potential to go too far.
Even as we encourage victims to come forward, we must not treat all transgressions the same. We should be able to distinguish between childishly inappropriate behavior, abuse of a position of authority, and predatory acts.
The credible allegations against Franken are much less serious than those against Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump, Roy Moore, or Clarence Thomas. That’s why I did not call on Al Franken to resign, why I put my name on a letter of support for him, and why I am disappointed and angry at seeing him forced out by his Democratic Senate colleagues. It’s not because he’s a friend (he isn’t) or because he gives me campaign funds (a small amount, a long time ago) or because I think no one else could do the job (of course they can).
I’m disappointed in Democrats who called for Franken’s resignation without letting the Senate ethics investigation play out. Franken and his Minnesota constituents deserved to have the Ethics Committee do its work. We have a Republican president who bragged about sexually assaulting women and has been accused of far more than Franken. Alabama may soon elect a Republican senator—with the support of the Republican National Committee—who many believe has molested children. We did not need to push Franken out to show that Democrats have the “moral high ground” and are “for women.”
We are champions for women when we fight for decent wages, fairness on the job, health care, reproductive rights, and retirement with dignity. We are on moral high ground when we hold the powerful accountable just like the weak, and insist that due process be given to all.
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