This year has seen the public being able to hold people accountable for their actions involving sexual harassment, abuse and assault. It has been great watching people like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, who are notable within Hollywood, being removed from their positions of power due to their alleged despicable actions. One area that hasn’t had the same coverage or support has been the allegations against politicians.
Politicians have been no strangers towards any kind of sexual scandal. From Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinski’s brief affair in the White House all the way back to founding father Alexander Hamilton’s affair with Maria Reynolds, we are simply used to politicians being unable to keep in it their pants. But, there is a stark difference between outrage over a consensual affair that we simply deemed morally wrong to a scandal involving a politician breaking the law and committing a crime of sexual abuse or assault.
Alexander Hamilton’s ‘mistake’, as espoused in ‘The Reynolds Pamphlet’, ruined his future political prospects. Lin Manuel Miranda’s infamous musical said it like this: “He’s never gonna [sic] be president now”. Now, a mistake in sexual practice, like cheating on your wife, does not necessarily mean that the person involved in unfit for the job they were elected as. However, if someone has been accused of committing a crime, I’d argue that they are definitely unfit to lead as a politician.
How can we trust those that govern us if they have been responsible for this kind of reprehensible and despicable behaviour in the past?
When the infamous tape featuring Billy Bush and Donald Trump surfaced, wherein President Trump suggested that he had “grabbed” a woman “by the pussy”, that argument went out the window. Unfortunately, his own admittance to sexual assault did not “mortally wound his prospects” or stop him from being elected as the President of the United States, as Miranda’s musical might’ve predicted. Trump has since been accused by nearly 20 women of sexual harassment and assault and yet it hasn’t affected his presidency at all.
When Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore was accused of sexual assault with a minor, Donald Trump continued to endorse his candidacy without another thought. It was a striking move and should not have surprised any of us. It was only due to the large droves of people of colour (POC) that came out and voted democrat that candidate Doug Jones won by an extremely small margin. There have been other politicians that have been accused of sexual assault, notably Senator Al Franken and Representatives John Conyers and Trent Franks.
This is an issue that cannot be divided by Republican vs. Democrats, as those accused stem from both parties (although Republicans do appear have more accused politicians). How can we trust those that govern us if they have been responsible for this kind of reprehensible and despicable behaviour in the past?
It is not just America that have been struck with these accusations. Earlier this year, Westminster was subject to a host of sexual abuse allegations. High profile MPs like Chris Pincher, Sir Michael Fallon, Charlie Elphicke and Kelvin Hopkins have been accused of sexual misconduct. Fallon and Pincher have both resigned while Elphicke and Hopkins have been suspended pending an investigation.
As we strive for equality and for sexual assault to be eliminated, we need to continue to hold people accountable for their actions and make sure that they are vetted properly so we don’t find a “pussy-grabber” in power. Anyone who can have so little respect for nearly half the population to commit such a crime against any woman doesn’t deserve to lead and apparently “serve the people”. They’re clearly not serving anyone but themselves.