The Democratic Party is the Women's’ Party

Democrats have always been against sexual assault, not because they want women’s votes, but because they truly support women.

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By Darren Liang

As the recent #MeToo movement gains traction, people have been shocked at the sheer multitude and severity of sexual harassment stories that women have to share. There are high-profile cases of sexual assault allegations across a number of industries, including film, journalism, and politics. And though individuals of all political backgrounds have been accused of sexual assault, the Democratic Party is the one acknowledging the issue and speaking out against it. Democrats have been vocal against sexual assault, something that has always been characteristic of their party.

Harvey Weinstein, one of the most infamous subjects in the recent discussion surrounding sexual assault, has had a multitude of sexual assault allegations made against him by women across the film industry. In the past, he has donated large sums of money to the Democratic party as well as to both Clinton presidential campaigns and the Obama-Biden presidential campaign. Despite his financial contributions, many Democratic public officials, including the Obamas and Hillary Clinton, have publicly denounced Weinstein’s actions toward the women he sexually assaulted. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has also been giving Weinstein’s donations back to charity, rather than using them for campaigning.

Democrats have also acknowledged the allegations against their own party members and are making a point to support the women who have made them. Senator Al Franken, who was accused of kissing and groping former colleague Leeann Tweeden, was condemned by many of his Democratic colleagues. Patty Murray, the most senior Democratic woman in the Senate, spoke out as well, saying, “This is unacceptable behavior and extremely disappointing… I hope this latest example of the deep problems on this front spurs continued action to address it." Franken himself made a public statement, apologizing for his actions before stepping down, saying, "I understand why we need to listen to and believe women's experiences." This is what we need to hear from perpetrators of sexual assault: an understanding that what they did was wrong and the importance of listening to women who make such allegations. Further, as in this situation, they need to accept the consequences of their actions.

Not only have Democrats been supportive of women who have more recently made sexual assault allegations, but they have also been reexamining their reactions to those who made similar allegations in the past. The most prominent example of this is Bill Clinton, who at the time was defended by many Democrats who did not believe the women who were claiming he sexually assaulted them. Quite a few Democrats have since gone back on their support of Clinton, including former Clinton administration official David Rothkopf, who said Monica Lewinsky “deserves an apology from many of us she has never received.” Though this realization should have happened far sooner and should not have taken thousands of women speaking out against their oppressors, the Democratic party has taken clear steps and admitted their past wrongdoings.

Conversely, the Republican party has many politicians who vehemently deny allegations of sexual assault or do not even acknowledge them in the first place. Roy Moore, the Republican nominee for Alabama senator, denies allegations that he has sexually harassed and assaulted numerous teenage girls. President Trump insists that the allegations must be false since Moore has gone through many years of public service without sexual assault having ever been brought up. Many Republicans also ignored the allegations of sexual assault against Trump himself during his presidential campaign, despite his blatant disregard for women’s personal boundaries and their consent. Looking back on his actions in 1997, when he walked backstage at the Miss Teen USA Pageant, Trump said, “You know, I’m inspecting because I want to make sure that everything is good. You know, the dresses. You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. And you see these incredible-looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that.” This is a statement made by a man who was elected into the White House by his Republican allies.

Sexual assault is not exclusive to or representative of any one political party, and both the Republican and Democratic parties have been guilty of belittling it. But Republicans cannot cry wolf while standing behind their president. They should take a cue from Democrats and begin their fight against sexual assault, starting with their own leaders.