When the people we trust to lead our society take advantage of their power, it’s often done so discreetly that they hope no one will notice. But as time goes on, it becomes impossible to ignore the thousands of people losing health insurance. The degree-seeking students working harder than ever only to be met with mountains of debt at graduation. And, of course, the new heart-wrenching allegations of sexual misconduct unfolding every day.
Sound familiar? Things that we never would have imagined possible a decade ago now happen so frequently that one can practically feel the collective nation shrugging.
We need to do better.
In governing, in electing and in holding each other accountable, we need to do better. Do we really want our children to grow up thinking sexual harassment and general disregard for the welfare of our fellow citizens is okay, or can even get you elected president?
Every day, we hear of another powerful person accused of sexual harassment or assault. In a time of widespread fear and anger at rape culture, one may think that government leadership would make a point to establish that our country is not a place for sexual violence. Instead, Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education released rollbacks of Obama-era sexual assault prevention guidelines, and made it easier for campus rapists to get away with their crimes.
There is a time and a place for partisanship. But when it comes to basic human rights, like being able to afford care when you’re sick and not being subject to maliciously wandering hands, there is no place for party politics. We are all one people, one family, and we need to start treating each other with the decency we give to our actual families.
Of course, people often say that they endorse or support a candidate or elected official because they agree with his or her political agenda. That makes sense, until it comes out that that official is not the person of strong character he or she pretends to be. Then it becomes an issue of morality not party affiliation. And in that case, there is no justification for continued support, because no policy idea can ever make up for being someone who causes pain and humiliation to others just for the sake of it.
This past month, many allegations of sexual misconduct have surfaced alleging Senate hopeful Roy Moore made unwanted advances towards young girls in Alabama. In a rare showing of care for sexual assault victims, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that he does, in fact, believe the accusers. He also said he thinks Roy Moore should remove himself from the senate race.
The general rhetoric of Mitch McConnell’s statement shows some signs of progress. Finally, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle recognize the epidemic of sexual misconduct against women. But the issue is, it’s hard to overlook the fact that in this case, Mitch McConnell was likely playing politics — he wants nothing more than to see Roy Moore out of the running. And I don’t believe for one second that he or others in Congress would have spoken out against Moore if Moore was someone they wanted elected.
And that’s a problem. When we have leaders who ignore immorality when it is politically favorable to them, they promote shady, life-ruining, illegal behavior. And with the entire nation watching, they inspire others to do the same.
We need to insist on the type of government that we can trust to work to the best of their ability for the good of the entire country, and all of its people. That means protecting our most vulnerable and holding people accountable for their actions. We can do better; we need to do better.