Running for a government position, especially the United States Senate or House of Representatives, has always been considered a prestigious and noble effort. The congressional responsibility of making vital decisions regarding the people’s lives and welfare from anything to health care, taxes and governing laws are placed in the hands of mere individuals and as representatives of the people, we expect these individuals we vote into office to uphold moral and ethical values and decision making. Or so goes the lie we have been telling ourselves. We need to decide where the moral line in this election process is drawn.
Alabama’s Democrat Doug Jones and Republican Roy Moore are cutting in close in recent polling over who will fill the senate seat previously held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. They will face off for this seat during a special election on December 12.
Moore, his wife and his four children are members of the First Baptist Church in Gallant, Alabama, considers himself a “committed constitutional conservative” and is a former judge. Jones has a wife and three children and what he considers a blue collar upbringing, says he has seen “the strengths and weaknesses of our system of justice” from his experience as an attorney and wants to be a “voice for reason in the turmoil of modern Washington.”
Both men seem to have lived simple lives and have plenty life and law experience setting them up to run for office. Both men seem to be popular choices in Alabama according to the Washington Post poll where Moore is only three points behind Jones, making them neck and neck. However, upon closer inspection and comparison there is one huge difference. One of these men has at least four allegations against him of soliciting sex from a fourteen-year-old as well as soliciting relationships with younger women almost twice his junior. Though this should be a create question of his moral code, the people of Alabama are still undecided in their decision on whether Moore is fit to run for the senate seat.
For some reason, these allegations against Moore, during his campaign for this seat in the senate, are having little to no effect. The Washington Post reported “Fifty-three percent of voters say Jones, a former federal prosecutor, has higher standards of personal moral conduct than Moore. In contrast, about a third of likely voters say Moore, who has cast his campaign as a “spiritual battle” with heavy religious overtones, has higher moral standards.” For Alabama, their preferences lie with his religious agenda and take no consideration of the allegations against him implying he solicited relationships and sexual conduct with women as young as fifteen years old when he was as old as thirty.
Four women have come out with their stories to the Washington Post. Some were within legal right of Alabama laws while others were not so appropriate. The Post article says “The legal age of consent in Alabama, then and now, is 16,” making the first account of Leigh Corfman who was approached by Moore when she was fourteen while he was thirty-two, illegal. The Post goes on to point out “under Alabama law in 1979, and today, a person who is at least 19 years old who has sexual contact with someone older than 12 and younger than 15 has committed sexual abuse in the second degree,” laying out the seriousness of his relations with Corfman. The other three allegations of Moore’s inappropriate conduct with younger women happened when the women were between sixteen and eighteen years old while he was in his thirties.
In each of these scenarios, the mother’s of these women were flattered by Moore’s attention to their daughters and encouraged some of the dating. In one instance Moore gave alcohol to a girl who was under Alabama’s legal drinking age at the time. Corfman was the only one who reported that Moore brought her to his home where he removed her clothes and touched her over her underwear.
The clear issue here lies in the morality of an older man preying on the innocence of young women who have not yet reached adulthood or have potentially barely experienced it. Even worse is the sometimes supportive mothers of these women who didn’t see the age gap as huge problems. Not all age gaps in relationships are inappropriate, but the intentions of Moore do not seem so pure.
Typically, at least to my understanding, senator scandals happen post receiving the position. More often than not there’s a gay-bashing senator who pushes strong support of the sanctity of marriage between men and women who is often the one revealed to have sexually abused or solicited sex from other men, younger boys or women. I’m sure not all senators who fit this mold are predators, but so far real-life examples have practically given us a formula for who will reveal themselves as less than moral.
Our very own President Donald Trump has a growing list of sexual harassment allegations against him. We have impeached a president, Bill Clinton, for his own sexual conduct with an intern, Monica Lewinsky, during his brief time as president, but just because these twenty accounts of sexual harassment against Trump have happened in the past, impeachment has not been sought by Congress.
Draw the Line
The problem lies within the inability for others to take in consideration of information that is revealed “after the fact.” In spite of serious allegations of seriously inappropriate behavior from people in position of power, voters are still torn over whether this makes these people fit for office or if the time period in which this has happened makes them unfit for office. Even when a victim’s statute of limitations runs out and the law fails these alleged victims it should be the responsibility of the public to acknowledge accounts of inappropriate behavior that appears in numbers.
Allowing these individuals to run for office and to stay in office only empowers other morally-off individuals to continue their behavior knowing they will not be reprimanded by the public for their actions. As young voters with the power and influence to create change and the ability to learn from past mistakes, we can not continue to allow this behavior from our elected officials who are supposed to represent who we are.