Go to jail. Do not pass Go; do not collect $200. If you grew up playing Monopoly, as I did, those words sound familiar. How about these words? You have scads of Get Out of Jail cards; pass Go whenever you want; and feel free to collect however much money as you can.
In a nutshell, the first set of rules applies to most of us while the second set applies to our elected officials. The sexual harassment spotlight is obscuring that fact.
I’m getting tired of reading that sexual harassment is a product of our patriarchal society or hearing politicians and pundits (especially females) paraphrasing the famous line spoken by Captain Renault in the movie Casablanca by pretending that they are, “Shocked, shocked to find that despicable behavior is going on here,” in the higher echelons of Hollywood, newsrooms and Congress.
Can we get real? People treating other people badly has existed since the Garden of Eden when Adam tried to evade responsibility for his sin by blaming it on Eve. Turn the page and Cain kills Abel. Keep turning pages and you will find examples of all sorts of human failings. If you aren’t drawn to the Bible, look at history and literature.
As Lord Acton famously said in 1887, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” We have granted, and allowed our politicians to grab, way too much power. Certainly many, and very likely the majority, of the anointed men and women have strayed far from public service and probity. In many ways the system is now designed to encourage them to do so. Sexual misconduct is one example of bad behavior, but focusing only on that is the equivalent of treating a high fever with aspirin. You may reduce or obscure one symptom of a serious problem, but you haven’t eliminated the underlying ailment.
I am not an Alabamian so I don’t need to answer the question of whether I would vote for Judge Moore or not. Yet, relying on that fact to avoid the question of whether I would vote for him or not if I did live in Alabama seems to be a cop-out. Having already presented two famous quotes, I will act on another oft-quoted one, “For fools rush in where angels fear to tread,” (Alexander Pope, 1711) and answer the question anyway.
The first step in searching for an answer is whether or not to believe the allegations. Here, I am going to be guided by experience. Do you remember Alaska Senator Ted Stevens? He lost his bid for re-election when he was found guilty in a federal corruption trial eight days before citizens went to the polls. Once he lost the election, the Justice Department found that there was evidence of gross prosecutorial misconduct and vacated the conviction. In other words, “We (Democrats) cheated and we won.”
How about Candy Crowley abusing her position as moderator in the Obama/Romney debate? Her behavior and facts were wrong, but the impression left by them added fuel to Romney’s losing trend. Once again, “We (Democrats) cheated and we won.”
I could go on and on. The result is that, in the spirit of the boy who cried wolf and ended up with no one trusting him, I land on the side of cynical suspicion of any allegations made against conservatives when an election is at stake.
The next factor I consider is whether, if the allegations are true, they would stop me from voting for Roy Moore. Here, I am somewhat guided by the ideas of Madalyn Murray O’Hair whose lawsuit ended Bible readings in public school. (How’s that been working for you?) According to her son, who as a young boy was the plaintiff in the case, she understood that you could use democracy to destroy democracy. She realized that the Supreme Court might vote for laws that would destroy America in the name of American values. In other words, good people can be more easily destroyed than evil people because you can use their own morality and goodness against them.
Based on this concept, I think that even if I was sure that the allegations were true, I would cast my vote for Judge Moore. As almost everyone is openly acknowledging now, Congress is a cesspool of moral turpitude. It is well and good for today’s liberal pundits to declare in 2017 that liberals were wrong to shield President Clinton from effects of his abusive behavior towards women. They correctly opine that they were the ones to establish the principle that sexual misconduct was fine as long as your politics were politically correct. However, that belated mea culpa has no practical political consequence. It is possible—just slightly possible—that this latest explosion of publicity will herald a welcome change in Congress. Al Franken and John Conyers are by no means the only (alleged) miscreants. There are any number of Republicans and Democrats who should be quaking right now. If they are not quaking, it is because they recognize that the public’s attention span is short while their ability to be fooled is great. Ethics investigations are notorious for taking a long time and resulting in little action.
So, I would vote for Roy Moore and agree that allegations of him, along with those of dozens of other Senators and Congressman should be investigated. Let’s look at all abuses including sexual, financial, and misuse of political power. We need to decide many things including if disgusting behavior towards women one meets through one’s official capacity is the same as disgusting behavior in the role of private citizen. Do actions thirty weeks ago matter more than those that took place thirty years ago? These are all matters for discussion. But the rules need to apply across the board, not just to one’s political opponents. I’m open to hearing that if Senator Franken and Congressman Conyers, among dozens of others, are impeached or forced to resign then newly elected Senator Moore might belong on that list as well.
Not electing him because I disapprove of his alleged behavior thirty years ago? Will he be an albatross around Republican necks? How many times do conservatives need to learn that they can possess every positive quality and exhibit only admirable behavior and cries of sexism, racism, other “isms,” and general deplorableness, up to and including wanting to push handicapped elderly people off a cliff, will be leveled against them? If Judge Moore loses, I think that down the road once again we will be taunted with the cry, “We cheated, but we won.”