Sexual impropriety. It has always made for juicy headlines. Such behavior has been around since mankind was first documented. But never in my lifetime has it escalated into an all-out war of calling out any and every incident of impropriety as it has in the last several weeks. It may be big enough to surpass Donald J. Trump for Time Magazine Person of the Year (if a topic can qualify as such; for the record, Time made the PC the POY back in the 80’s).
Now, several weeks removed from the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Roy Moore has been thrust into the center of an all too familiar plot line for high profile politicians in the middle of a hotly-contested race. That’s right, folks. If your keeping score at home, this is sexual impropriety number 78 (I think) since the summer of 2017. And with each accusation comes an account of each event that is usually quite different coming from the accused. Such is the case of Roy Moore flatly denying any wrongdoing.
One of the two most prominent accusers of Moore, Leigh Corfman, claims that Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was 14, while Moore was 32. Many have questioned Corfman’s motives…Why wait decades to come forward? Why go to the Washington Post, a publication that is notoriously left-leaning? “She’s probably been paid a truckload of money”, one would say. Someone else says, ”She must be a democrat that supports Moore’s opponent (Doug Jones)”. But regardless of who you believe, Leigh Corfman provided a compelling enough story that people within the GOP were asking Moore to step aside and suspend his campaign. One such person was none other than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Moore denied all allegations, despite an interview that was surreal and actually left the door open to a possible encounter with the women, while on Sean Hannity’s primetime show on Fox News Channel. And after a week of in-fighting between Hannity and Moore, new allegations were presented by other women that say they were approached by Moore. So, what are the voters suppose to do with these allegations and subsequent denials by the candidate? Should a candidate be withdrawn, as McConnell has suggested, from the ballot? Should there be a hearing before the vote? Is this just more dirty tricks by the opposition party to create doubt (just as a last minute hit piece would do) right before an election?
There are several things we must unpack before we can answer, as there are many moving parts to this scenario; none of which that are trivial or insignificant. Keep in mind, the goal of this exercise is to find the best course of action for the process of choosing a candidate for the U.S. Senate representing the State of Alabama. If what happened to these women is true, then it most certainly cost them much more than a silly election. And I am sensitive to that. But that is not the purpose of what I am trying to determine. That issue should be dealt with delicately in another venue. Now back to the unpacking…
Since Moore has categorically denied the allegations (after the Moore v. Hannity battle), what is his obligation as a candidate? Answer: he must stay in the race. No candidate should let FALSE allegations drive them out. And until this is dealt with legally, you cannot expect Roy Moore to withdraw.
Does the GOP, either on the state or federal level, have the right to replace the candidate based on allegations alone? Answer: Alabama law states that Moore’s name must remain on the ballot within 76 days of the election. As far as Congress is concerned, I am not aware of any rules within their own governing body that would allow them to intervene prior to an election. Obviously, there is the ethics committee that deals with these issues if they already are elected. So the answer in both cases is NO.
What can the US Senate do when accusations comes forth before an election? Answer: Use the power of their position to influence the outcome. After trying to persuade Moore to drop out for the greater good of the party, they could try to get another candidate to run as a write-in and make it a protest vote, as they certainly could not imagine an outcome where the two would not divide the vote and guarantee victory for Jones. They could also wait until the election is decided. Then if Moore is the winner, they could call an inquiry by the ethics committee, which if found guilty would start the whole process over, as Moore would be ousted.
Can the State of Alabama intercede in this matter? Answer: No. According to Alabama’s secretary of state, a candidate remains on the ballot within 76 days of the election.
How should Alabama’s citizens respond to this? Answer: It’s complicated. I feel their frustration as it seems far too often the voters are removed from the equation , when it should be all about what they think! In this case, each Moore supporter must consider the testimony of the accusers against the denial of Moore. Then there is always the matter of choosing a write-in candidate as well; which we may see a lot of in this election.
The deeper questions have to do with who really decides an election. The media far too often strongly influences the vote with either hit pieces or digging up dirt from a candidate’s past. But in this ever-intensifying political climate, we are witnessing events that we have never seen before. With the battle between McConnell and Moore, it is clear that whether you believe in an establishment, or as some would say “part of the swamp” that President Trump wants to drain, it is unusual (but not unprecedented) to see leadership want their own candidate to fail. But that is the case here. The MSM has too powerful a voice to let the voters see the clear picture, as most of them have become partisan in their approach to a story. So before we can even consider any wrong doing by the candidate, most turn to the motive of the people bringing damning information to the table as the greater issue.
So, is the media just doing their job, or is this politically motivated? Should a journalists’ story decide an election? Have we really become so partisan that allegations only matter given the source? And finally, given the history of politics in our country, how can we ever leave the election for the voters to decide with all of the political games that each side plays? This one is easy to answer: I don’t believe that we can. So let me tell you how I see all of this…
I believe the accusers and would NOT vote for Roy Moore, despite the fact I was a huge supporter before this came out. I also believe that the judge deserves his day in court, so I support him staying in the race. I believe that Mitch McConnell should shut the hell up and let the voters in Alabama decide. I would also look into supporting a write-in candidate, and it seems that we have one entering at the ninth hour (we shall discuss Lee Busby before this election is over). And if by chance Roy Moore is elected by the fine people of Alabama, then I do believe it is the obligation of Congress to determine the allegations by the ethics committee. And if impropriety is found, then despite the money, time, and effort to elect a new senator, it is a duty that must be done to remove him and start the process over.
We fail as a nation if we interfere with this process in any way. We must leave elections up to the voter and let the system work if we are to maintain democracy in this representative republic. So in the case of Roy Moore, I am all for him staying in the race and fighting the good fight. But I am also completely against him winning.
(Chris Gaines is an aspiring author and the Editor-In-Chief of Patriot Gaines. He lives with his wife Jennifer, and two children, Patrick & Megan, in the Cedar Valley of Northeastern Iowa.)