The problem with making accusations and demanding action is that unless you are willing to let the sword fall for one and all, you risk being labeled a hypocrite. Is this perhaps the motivation behind the first set of calls from Democrats for Rep. John Conyers to resigns his seat?
After weathering the initial storm of controversy over his allegedly paying off sexual harassment court verdicts with Senate money, further allegations emerged as victims were given more confidence to come forward.
The very first Democrat to come forward and demand his resignation is Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), who said:
“Rep. John Conyers should resign. I’ve reviewed the allegations against him, and they’re as credible as they are repulsive,” Rice said in a statement. “Whether it happened 40 years ago or last week, settlement or no settlement, Democrat or Republican — harassment is harassment, assault is assault.”
She is not the only Democrat calling for action. Rice’s NY compatriot also called for some form of action (without actually asking him to step down). Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) said in an interview with CNN, “He should step down as the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee and be subject to this ethics investigation so it can be determined whether or not there’s a practice or pattern.” This viewpoint was backed up by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ari) who said, “As agonizing as it might be for all of us, the ranking member needs to step down at the minimum, and then the chips will fall from there.”
The reality is that leading Democrats are suffering a backlash from the harsh criticisms they have already made against Judge Roy Moore, who is facing his own sex allegations in Alabama. They are forced into a position of condemning all of the accused equally less they be accused of partisan hypocrisy. However, for the DNC, the choice between jettisoning one of their own in a “safe seat” who they know will be replaced with another Democrat, and coming out against someone who is not so secure, is an interesting position.
As more allegations come in; the latest being from former Capitol Hill staffer, Melanie Sloan, who claims Coyners repeatedly “harassed” and “verbally abused” her, it is difficult to see how the DNC can keep this under control for much longer.
At present, they are already fighting the case for Senator Al Franken, who at last count now has at least four separate accusers. If more people come forward, or if new allegations are made against different members, it will badly damage their chances of retaking either House in 2018.
Many point to the claims against Judge Roy Moore, and even President Trump, and try to downplay the issues as bipartisan. However, there are substance Al differences. In the case of Al Franken, there is photographic evidence. Though not conclusive, it is very damaging. John Conyers has records of settlements paid that at least appear to support the allegations against him.
In the case of Judge Moore and President Trump, there are only allegations without corroboration. The lack of corroboration is not proof of innocence, but then there is the timing of the allegations. Both President Trump and Judge Moore face allegations made just before a big election. Calling into question the motives of their accusers.
Al Franken and now John Conyers, we’re both secure in their elected positions when the allegations came out. Which makes it difficult for Democrats to make the moral equivalency argument. They have made accusations of President Trump’s being “unfit” and calls for Roy Moore to drop out based on unsubstantiated claims. Yet, for Al Franken and John Conyers, most are calling only for ethics investigations. Despite having at least circumstantial corroborating evidence against them.
In order to be consistent and maintain any sense of credibility, Democrats must call for the resignations of their own.
Mark is a political writer and journalist who has worked on campaigns for Brexit.