In light of the numerous allegations now made public against Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), and in honor of the survivors who have come forward and been recognized in a watershed #MeToo moments, it is past time for the Democratic senator to resign.
The first accusation felt all wrong, and many of us (myself included) rationalized it away. Roger Stone made it clear that he was somehow behind the chosen moment that the first accuser came forward. Republicans supporting Roy Moore (R-AL) were trying to distract from accusations of pedophilia against their favored candidate. Videos showed that the victim participated in what looked like uninvited touching of those who performed with her on the USO tour where she was assaulted. He didn’t do anything nearly as awful as Trump and Moore have done.
In truth, it was simply difficult to believe of a man we had trusted and admired so much, but isn’t it always?
Then came Sen. Franken’s response. He did not, as is so often seen, try to discredit his accuser. He did not deny that the photo released to the public was real or worthy of our disgust. He did not threaten lawsuits or make excuses. He welcomed an ethics investigation. His accuser said publicly that she forgave him. For all of that, we were ready to forgive him, too.
That just isn’t possible anymore.
At this moment, a time in which brave women come forward to make their voices heard and more of us are willing to call out the perpetrators and refuse to continue tolerating the toxic culture that has allowed men like Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes, Matt Lauer, Bill O’Reilly, John Conyers, and so many others who have sat in positions of power over women and abused that power, we can no longer refuse to call out our own.
Other Democratic lawmakers calling for Franken to resign include Sen. Dick Durbin (D-NY), the No. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Bob Casey (D-PA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Edward Markey (D-MA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tom Carper (D-DE) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
TIME acknowledged with their “Person of the Year” cover that this is a moment in which it is time to stand up, speak out, and support the victims coming forward. As we cheer that decision and lecture about the damage that has been done when survivors have been dismissed, disbelieved, and revictimized by the people they needed most, we cannot be guilty of the same thing. Democrats and other liberals have long touted themselves as the champions of the vulnerable, of those most in need, and especially of women. It’s time to put our money where our mouths are and call on Franken, no matter how much of a show he’s made of being an advocate for women in his policies, to accept his actions, accept the consequences, and step aside.
— TIME (@TIME) December 6, 2017
Continuing to trivialize victims according to who their perpetrators are should be the exact opposite of what liberals stand for in this moment. It does not matter if Donald Trump did it, too. It does not matter if the GOP is still backing Roy Moore. At least, it should not matter in our judgment of Al Franken.
As the party of women, we should hold ourselves to higher standards than that. We should be the last people to tolerate these egregious crimes against those with the least power within our own ranks. It is long past time to acknowledge that sexual harassment and sexual assault are not a Hollywood problem, or a Washington, D.C. problem; it is not a Democratic or Republican problem. It is a problem everywhere, for women in every industry and of all races, economic statuses, sexual orientations and and religions, and it is also time to acknowledge that those demographics make reporting and being believed far more complicated for some victims than others.
We start with cleaning out our own closets. And for the record, in solidarity with my brave sisters speaking out, #MeToo.
Featured image via Getty/Mark Wilson