Al Franken is no longer in the Senate.
John Conyers relinquished his prominent spot on the House Judiciary Committee.
Trump is president.
And he endorsed Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for Senate in Alabama.
One look at the two parties reveals a stark contrast. Both possess monsters who prey on women and must be ejected from their seat of power, but only one party follows through on their righteous outrage. We saw this play out again last night, as The New Yorker published an incredibly disturbing story about New York Attorney General, Democrat Eric Schneiderman. The piece contained allegations of at minimum, misdemeanor assault, by former girlfriends of Schneiderman, including harrowing passages like this one:
About four weeks after they became physically involved, she says, Schneiderman grew violent. One night, they were in the bedroom of his Upper West Side apartment, still clothed but getting ready for bed, and lightly baiting each other. As she recalls it, he called her “a whore,” and she talked back. They had both been drinking, and her recollection of their conversation is blurry, but what happened next remains vivid. Schneiderman, she says, backed her up to the edge of his bed. “All of a sudden, he just slapped me, open-handed and with great force, across the face, landing the blow directly onto my ear,” Manning Barish says. “It was horrendous. It just came out of nowhere. My ear was ringing. I lost my balance and fell backward onto the bed. I sprang up, but at this point there was very little room between the bed and him. I got up to try to shove him back, or take a swing, and he pushed me back down. He then used his body weight to hold me down, and he began to choke me. The choking was very hard. It was really bad. I kicked. In every fibre, I felt I was being beaten by a man.”
She finally freed herself and got back on her feet. “I was crying and in shock,” she says. She recalls shouting, “Are you crazy?” To her astonishment, Schneiderman accused her of scratching him. At one point—she can’t remember if it was at this moment or in a later conversation—he told her, “You know, hitting an officer of the law is a felony.”
Threatening a woman you just abused with jail time because she fought back is pretty much the definition of pure evil, and a man who gained fame for investigating potential crimes committed by Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein immediately found himself in the middle of the #MeToo movement last night. Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called for Schneiderman’s resignation a little over an hour after Ronan Farrow posted his story in The New Yorker, and about three hours after the piece went up, Schneiderman did the only thing he could and resigned (Ronan Farrow has broken so many of these impeccably detailed stories that getting a call from him at this point is like getting a call from the FBI).
Unless of course, Schneiderman was a Republican. Sure, certain Democrats in the past have received free passes—the most infamous being Ted Kennedy leaving Mary Jo Kopechne to drown on Chappaquiddick Island—and being rewarded for the rest of his political career. But in the era of #MeToo, the Democrats have truly begun to heed to the winds of change. John Conyers was one of the most respected members of the House. Al Franken had presidential aspirations. Ditching these men to try to build a better future was a difficult process for the Democrats, but they did it. The RNC rescinded their endorsement for Roy Moore after it was revealed that he molested young girls, then jumped back into the race down the stretch. Donald Trump bragged about walking through dressing rooms at his beauty pageants—including girls as young as 16—and 89% of Mitt Romney voters still voted for him. These two parties are not remotely the same, and anyone in media still engaging in both-sidesism is an obsequious hack.
If you’re a Nazi or a pedophile, the Republican Party has proven that it has room for you. One of the most prominent progressive politicians in the country—and one beloved for investigating Trump in an arena away from his tiny grubby hands—was gone three hours after stories of horrific behavior on his part surfaced. Roy Moore still hasn’t conceded, and is soliciting donations to this very day. Now, the Democrats still have plenty of work to do on this issue before it reaches the front pages of major newspapers, as evidenced by this heart-wrenching passage recapping reactions from influential Democratic friends in The New Yorker’s Schneiderman report:
After the former girlfriend ended the relationship, she told several friends about the abuse. A number of them advised her to keep the story to herself, arguing that Schneiderman was too valuable a politician for the Democrats to lose. She described this response as heartbreaking. And when Schneiderman heard that she had turned against him, she said, he warned her that politics was a tough and personal business, and that she’d better be careful.
As we saw during the Al Franken fallout, there is a belief amongst many Democrats that some politicians should be considered sacred cows. Some argue that because the Republicans refuse to purge their monsters, there is no reason for the Democrats to rid their side of predators. This kind of thinking cuts to the very heart of the sickness infecting every inch of America: we let our political partisanship dictate our entire lives. Who cares if the GOP is filled to the brim with racist geriatrics who are far happier seeing someone else hurt than witnessing themselves gain? This is about continuing the march of evolution. If humanity is to make good on the promise of our potential, we must emerge from the dark ages on gender equality, and that necessitates a zero tolerance policy amongst those who exist to represent us.
No politician is indispensable. The most talented pol of my lifetime, Barack Obama, governed a presidency virtually indistinguishable from the one that Hillary Clinton pitched in both 2008 and 2016. Policy matters far more than politicians, as the latter become completely useless when imposing the wrong kinds of the former. Barack Obama is proof. He campaigned on his aversion to the Iraq War, then killed vast populations of innocents while waging war in several different countries. Chuck Schumer has drawn the ire of seemingly most liberals at this point, but he would be hailed as a progressive hero if he implemented the policy vision that Barack Obama articulated in 2008.
Policy, not politicians, is what defines a political party. The Democrats are starting to understand this, and by expelling creeps like Schneiderman from the seat of power, they are beginning to set a policy agenda by quite literally drawing a line in the sand. The lesson of #MeToo is that this isn’t a Democrat, Republican, Hollywood, etc…problem. It’s a societal epidemic. The only way this issue gets better is by extinguishing it with sunlight and humanity, and one look at how both parties have treated serious cases of abuse towards women reveals that only one is truly committed to the cause of modernity. Shame on the Democrats for protecting Schneiderman as long as they did, but kudos to them for finally respecting the will of the humane.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.