Washington’s current climate of constant accusations and scandal has left the nation somewhat taken aback at the reality of what is going on behind closed doors, funded by the hard-working taxpayers. That disgust is followed quickly by the frustration of not knowing which accusations are true, and which are paid positions, used to manipulate the results of elections.
While we, the people, try and sort out who is truly in Washington to carry out the will of the people, and who is trying to turn their congressional offices into their own personal harem, many on the hill are just as confused as we are, trying to figure out which of the people they’ve worked alongside are predators, and which might be sticking around for a while.
One recent report from Politico has Washington insiders scrambling. The report claims that a news organization might be releasing the names of up to 50 lawmakers who have been involved in a scandal that could end their career. As if that weren’t bad enough, not only will those elected officials be affected, but everyone on their staff, as well as anyone else who’s close to them:
“The details change almost daily, but the rumor won’t die: A credible news organization is preparing to unmask at least 20 lawmakers in both parties for sexual misconduct.
Washington is also gripped by uncertainty over whether the nationwide awakening to workplace misconduct might be manipulated into a political weapon. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) went to law enforcement after being targeted last week by a forged harassment complaint against him, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) last month parried a false accusation of misconduct posted on Twitter.”
“You want to have a welcome environment to report abuse — you don’t want to deter victims,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in an interview. “But you’ve got to have enough due process and scrutiny to make sure it’s accurate.”
“I think this environment is pretty crazy right now,” Graham added, and “what happened to Sen. Schumer is a concern to a lot of us.”
Just this month, five members of Congress have been forced to resign or retire after being accused of sexual misconduct: Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Ruben Kihuen (D-Nev.), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and Blake Farenthold (R-Texas).
Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) also called it quits after graphic text messages sent by him were posted online.
The raft of accusations and departures is prompting uncomfortable conversations all over the Capitol.
Aides in one Democrat’s office were summoned recently to a meeting organized by a fellow staffer and asked whether they’d ever heard of an accusation against their boss, according to a source in the room. Other press secretaries have asked their bosses about any personal skeletons, wanting to unearth possible sexual landmines [sic] before they detonate in the media.”
What Democrats want and what the people want might be a little different in this case. Washington isn’t Vegas, and we would be better off if more people remembered that. You shouldn’t go looking for free money, and what happens there doesn’t stay there. The accountability standards aren’t all that high, and yet those who promised to serve the people of their constituency still can’t seem to live up to it, in many cases.
Those who have perpetrated these crimes are obviously sweating it out right now, and with good reason, but those who’ve done nothing wrong shouldn’t have anything to fear, and yet the false accusers are almost as plentiful as those with a real grievance:
“What no one on Capitol Hill knows for sure is where legitimacy begins and ends. Part of the reason that the rumor about 20 or more lawmakers being unmasked as sexual harassers has proved so durable is that, after the recent wave of resignations, it feels both shocking and believable.
The speculation about a harassment story started more than a month ago, even before Conyers became the first lawmaker connected to harassment allegations. Sometimes POLITICO is named as the media outlet behind the story, but CNN and The New York Times are occasionally called the central players in the speculation.
By last week, The Washington Post was the organization, and the number of members had grown more grandiose.
‘I am hearing The Post has a list of 40-50, evenly split between the parties, that have had sexual harassment charges,” one lobbyist texted POLITICO.
Since the speculation began, members and aides from both parties in recent weeks have buttonholed reporters to try to gauge what they’re working on regarding sexual harassment — and, perhaps, to put their own minds at ease that no one is dogging them. In the past week alone, at least four lawmakers have asked POLITICO whether the bombshell story is real.
The atmosphere in Congress has reached the point that one Republican leadership staffer told POLITICO she worries that members might think the worst if they’re called into Speaker Paul Ryan’s office.”
America is finally feeling the results of its acceptance of the “if it feels good, do it” doctrine, and it’s not a good feeling. What started out as the activities of the morally desolate has finally become acceptable by anyone who thinks they can get away with it, and it has bread a culture of predators and victims.
Alexis de Tocqueville said a long time ago that “America is great because America is good; and if America ever ceases to be good, she will no longer be great.” We are at a turning point, and if we can change the way our lawmakers view morality, we might be able to turn back to greatness. If not, the future is bleak.
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