Just hours ago, news broke that Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore sexually assaulted at least one 14-year-old girl and pursued three girls between the ages of 16 and 18. Immediately, Republican senators were forced to reckon with the fact that they had again nominated a sexual predator to serve in the federal government. But rather than outright condemn and un-endorse Moore, Republican senators issued half-assed statements that refused to validate the allegations.
GOP: It’s bad, “if” it’s true.
Notice all of the “if”s in the following statements:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: “If these allegations are true, he must step aside.”
Sen. Tim Scott: “If they’re accurate he should step aside.”
Sen. Cory Gardner, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee: “If these allegations are found to be true, Roy Moore must drop out of the Alabama special Senate election.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski: “I’m horrified, and if this is true he needs to step down immediately.”
Sen. Richard Shelby: “It’s a nasty story, I don’t know anything about it… Let’s see how the story runs.”
Sen. John Cornyn: “The next steps are up to the governor and the people of Alabama.”
Sure, these statements are better than nothing. I’d rather Republicans treat sexual assault and sexual predation as disgusting and intolerable than stay silent on the matter. But I’m not going to give them credit for refusing to accept the allegations against Moore as true. And I’m especially not going to give them credit after they supported and still continue to tolerate the self-professed sexual predator in the White House.
Words are nice, but actions speak louder.
Republicans have not only done nothing to reprimand the Predator-in-Chief; they have actively fought legislation and guidances that would help victims and survivors of sexual assault and rape. All but two Republicans voted to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, despite her obsession with defending accused rapists rather than supporting those they rape. As Secretary of Education, DeVos has rescinded Obama-era Title IX protections as well as met with pro-rape “men’s rights” groups. Yet the Republican senators who are now supposedly disturbed by Roy Moore’s sexual predation – “if these allegations are true,” of course – were either silent or supportive regarding DeVos’ assault on the rights of survivors and victims.
In 2014, Republican senators blocked a bill to excise military commanders from prosecutorial decisions regarding sexual assault cases in the armed forces. Then, in 2016, Republican leadership refused to allow debate on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s amendment regarding sexual assault in the military. If Republican senators really care about sexual predation, then why do they oppose even the most basic reforms to provide victims and survivors a semblance of justice?
Here’s the thing about Roy Moore…
Yet none of that mattered to Republicans. They were a-okay with endorsing a man who believes that Muslims should not be allowed to serve in Congress, that being transgender is a mental illness, that homosexuality should be illegal, the list goes on. They were entirely willing to make Roy Moore a colleague in the Senate, because they’d prefer a fascist bigot who will vote for tax reform than a centrist Democrat like Doug Jones.
What happens next?
Frankly, I have no idea who will win the Alabama Senate race. I desperately want to believe that enough Alabama Republicans will be disgusted by Moore’s sexual predation to not vote for him, but Donald Trump won Alabama by 27.72 points. If “grab ’em by the pussy” wasn’t too much for them, will this really make a difference?