Why I Don’t Care About Al Franken’s Apology (And the Democrats Shouldn’t Either)
Written by Annemarie Cuccia
Here are some disclaimers: I am a Democrat. I am a woman. I have friends who have been the victims of sexual assault.
And I don’t care what Al Franken says to try make up for his assault.
Let me rephrase that. I do care. In a human, hopeful for the future way, I care. I want him to have learned, to have become a better person. I’m glad he’s not denying it, or calling the women liars, or following any of the paths other elected officials have gone down. I’m glad because this means that maybe men are beginning to accept responsibility. I’m glad because I’m sick of reading about Roy Moore’s denials.
But politically, I don’t care. I do not give a single political crap about how much Franken apologizes and regrets his actions. The fact remains that he made a mistake, a mistake that has been accepted far too long in our society. Whether he truly feels regret or not, it was politically expedient for him to apologize, so of course he did. He is either better or smarter than the other people who have been in his position.
I don’t care because I am a Democrat. We have excitedly chastised the Republicans for harboring sexual predators, condemned them for supporting candidates who were accused of the same things Al Franken was. We cannot become hypocrites. We cannot support this man. I’m not asking that he isn’t seated, or even that he resign immediately, but if his name appears on another ballot, it cannot have a “D” next to it. We do not donate to him, we do not campaign for him, we do not vote for him. Otherwise, we have no ground to object to the Republican’s support of Roy Moore, or of Donald Trump. Otherwise, we are exactly what we have promised to fight against.
I don’t care because I am a woman. I don’t care because I have friends who have been victims of sexual assault. And this means I cannot stomach the idea of electing a man who has been accused of the same things that haunt them. He does not represent us, he represents what we are fighting against.
I do not pretend I came to this position easily; I liked Franken once. I hoped it would not come to this. Because a part of me still respects him, respects speeches he gave and policies he pushed for. A part of me wants to equivocate and explain, cite his apology as clear evidence of growth. But that part also knows that a few instances can lead to a pattern, that a few pardons can lead to a culture. And this is why I don’t care what he says now.
We cannot afford to get stuck in shades of gray of assault, shades of gray of apologies. There must be a bright line for how much sexual assault is acceptable, and that amount must be none.
What he did is forever with the women, it must also be forever with him.