Politicians and sexual aggression

With the sort of voting power women have, it seems strange that they haven’t forced both major political parties to deal with the problem.

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Why do we hear so much about sexual aggression by bosses against their employees and yet rarely is anything really done about it?  In January 2019, vox.com published a list of 262 persons (only one woman) accused of sexual aggression.   This included Matt Lauer, Garrison Keillor, Bill O’Reilly and Charlie Rose, all of whom lost their jobs, and Tom Brokaw, who did not.  And politicians like Donald Trump, George H.W. Bush, Roy Moore, and Alex Kozinski, who were accused but suffered no loss. And Joe Biden wasn’t even on the list.  At least now he was been directly accused of aggression, except the media has mostly ignored it.  “Rightwing news outlets have gleefully seized upon the accusations against Biden; the story has also been discussed by leftwing commentators. However, the mainstream media has largely ignored the allegations.”  Trump, meanwhile, has been accused by 25 women of sexual aggression.

Given the accusations against Biden as well as those against Trump, we have reached a point in our history where both of the major parties will probably be foisting on us a candidate with a raunchy history.  Looking at Republicans, this is not surprising. “The Republican Party has a long history of insensitive and degrading remarks on sexual assault.”  

Fifty-nine percent of a recent Pew Research survey’s female respondents said they experienced some form of sexual harassment in or outside the workplace.   Half of adults believe that men getting away with sexual harassment and assault in the workplace is a “major problem,” but the new survey suggests those views vary greatly when broken down along party lines. According to a poll released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center, Sexual Harassment at Work in the Era of #MeToo, 62 percent of Democrats believes men getting away with sexual harassment or assault is a major problem. However, only 33 percent of Republicans feel the same. A similar number of Democrats, at 60 percent, think it is a major issue that women are not being believed, compared to only 28 percent of Republicans.

While Trump has a much larger group of accusers, the events that they point to happened twenty or more years ago and were raised several years ago.  On the other hand, the most recent accusation against Biden (by Tara Reade, a former staffer) was made public less than a week ago, although the event itself occurred in 1993.

These sorts of accusations against presidents and presidential candidates occurred during Bill Clinton’s regime.  There have also been accusations against George W. Bush (as well as his father, George H.W. Bush). But the accusations against Trump didn’t prevent his election in 2016.  “And the multiple women who have accused Biden of touching them inappropriately in the past haven’t exactly derailed his career.”  Women tend to outvote men, but this didn’t stop Trump from beating Hillary Clinton.

The issue is unlikely to be raised in a Biden-Trump contest, as both candidates suffer from a poor reputation, and raising the issue will help neither.  In the Democratic primary, Time’s Up, the successor to the #Me Too movement, declined to fund a campaign against Biden by Tara Reade.  Presumably, this was because Time’s Up favored Biden against Trump, and the organization did not believe that Bernie could take the nomination.

What is surprising is that after all the years since the Women’s Movement began (the suffrage movement began in 1848; the modern movement started in 1968), women have not targeted politicians accused of sexual aggression.  No one has accused Bernie Sanders of such acts, but he was forced to apologize because of sexual aggression by some of his supporters.  Trump apologized for some of his public remarks just before the 2016 election.  In 2019 Biden apologized for the way he treated Anita Hill several decades ago.  But the issue still lies out there without resolution.

The #Me Too movement was the last attempt to deal with this problem.  That started in 2006 but created nothing lasting. With the sort of voting power women have, it seems strange that they haven’t forced both major political parties to deal with the problem.  After all, if they could successfully start a Women’s Party, they might get 40% of the voters right off the bat, leaving the major parties to get 30% each. That would be interesting indeed.

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