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Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Is Calling Out Hypocrisy in How Washington Politicizes Sexual Abuse

There’s always been hypocrisy in politics, but since Trump became president it’s become downright exhausting (not to mention depressing) to try to keep up with it all, to point out all the hypocritical words and actions rolling out of Washington, specifically from the Republican Party. Trump and his propaganda machine of Fox News are experts in Whataboutism, deflecting conversations by claiming hypocrisy on the part of their opponent rather than ever addressing specific charges made against their own party. If they can convince people that the other party is just as bad, then they never have to address their own behavior.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand went on The View to talk about the hypocrisy around how politicians are facing (or deflecting) the #MeToo reckoning. To start, host Joy Behar brought up the sexual abuse allegations recently made public against Las Vegas hotel and casino mogul Steve Wynn. A lot of people have been asking whether Republicans would be giving back the contributions made by Wynn, who has now resigned from his position as the RNC’s finance chair. It would seem like the obvious move for Republicans to give back the money or donate it, especially given the GOP’s demands that Democrats do just that with money donated by Harvey Weinstein. (Which, by the way, they did.)

Instead, there’s silence coming from the Republican Party. Gillibrand calls that silence “deafening.”

She says, “I really believe this should not be about any one party. It should not be partisan. This kind of behavior is not okay. It is not acceptable. We need accountability. And I think the Republicans should show far more leadership than they are today, and they need to speak out and send the money back and hold their own accountable.”

Wynn is resigning, but on the part of politicians, “the outcry in the other allegations of Weinstein never ended, coming from a political place, and I don’t think these issues should be political.”

While it seems to be a forté of Trump’s supporters, hypocrisy and Whataboutism are not exclusive to the Republican right. After discussing Wynn, Behar brought up Al Franken and expressed a view shared by many on the left, both politicians and civilians. Namely, that it was unfair for Gillibrand and other Democrats to call for Franken’s resignation, especially not when Donald Trump, who has far more allegations of harassment and assault against him than Franken does, refuses to even address them.

Just because he’s a Democrat, or because the charges against him weren’t the same as those against Trump, Gillibrand wasn’t going to give him a pass. Behar, seemingly forgetting that Franken willingly resigned, asked why Gillibrand didn’t think he deserved a fair hearing. “He’s entitled to a hearing,” she replied. “He’s not entitled to my silence.”

This idea that because Trump’s alleged sexual misconduct is “worse” than Franken’s is irrelevant in an honest discussion about how to tackle issues of sexual harassment and assault. As is the argument that if Republicans won’t do anything about Trump, Democrats shouldn’t have taken action regarding Franken. That logic may help Dems, but it shows a complete disregard for the victims. The very real women who spoke out against Franken are ignored and dehumanized while those who made accusations against Trump are tokenized and weaponized.

As Gillibrand said, when it comes to Franken, “I can’t be a good mother and I can’t be a good senator if I’m silent just because it’s my friend.”

It would be great if Republicans treated sexual abuse allegations against Trump and Wynn as seriously as they did those against Franken and Weinstein. Because again, this should not be a partisan issue.

At this point, pretty much all politicians have ties and relationships they have to reanalyze. Gillibrand is no exception, as she somewhat skirted questions regarding her relationship with the Clintons following the recent revelation that Hillary Clinton may have ignored sexual harassment accusations against a senior adviser during her 2008 campaign. Gillibrand says she doesn’t know the details of that case, which was just published in the New York Times this weekend, but she insists that the continued conversation around these issues is important.

“It’s not about any one president and it’s not about any one industry,” Gillibrand said. “And if we reduce it to that, we are missing the opportunity to allow women to be heard, to allow women to have accountability and transparency and to allow women to have justice.”

(image: screengrab)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.