Nov 30, 2017 (San Diego) News came this morning that John Conyers, the longest serving member of Congress, and founder of the Congressional black Caucus is in the hospital. Moreover, both his leadership, in the form of Nancy Pelosi, and Speaker Paul Ryan, have called for his resignation.
I am positive this is not the way he expected to end his storied career in Congress, and as a leader of the civil rights movement. However, these voices are growing because of claims against him from a former staffer of sexual harassment. If he does resign, it will be the first politician to pay a real price in this new environment of accountability.
We expect voices to grow calling for the resignation of Al Franken from the Senate as well. Some Democrats are still closing in and claiming that these two men should receive due process. Let’s clarify something about that. Due process happens in a court of law. In some cases, the statue of limitations have passed, and any criminal proceedings would not happen. The only choice for accusers at this point would be civil litigation. In many cases, due to non disclosure agreements, that is a non starter. In fact, a goal of those agreements is precisely to avoid the courtroom.
However, we still have the very real issue of Donald J Trump, President of the United States, who has been granted automatic immunity due to the office he holds. Yes, the President of the United States is essentially above the law, and he knows it. This is not a minor matter. So unless Congress decides to use the Constitutional mechanisms in place, there is precious little that the president has to fear.
Incidentally, Congress is using some of those mechanisms, asa weak as they are, with two members. We still need to learn the identities of the two members, one per party, that two female members mentioned in testimony. As taxpayers, we could also learn the long list of settlements over the years, or at the very list how many women were ultimately paid off to keep silent.
We know that they are going to make sexual harassment training mandatory. I officially welcome the Congress of the United States to the 1990s. it is almost shocking that the body that makes laws is well behind the practices in the private sector. While they are less than effective, the scandals rocking major media should tell us this, at least they had some training. the military also joined the private sector in training personnel in the 1990s after the Tailhook scandal. I guess it is best if we do not point out just how long it has taken Congress.
It is not just Congress. California has its own issues with the Legislature. One member, Raul Boccanegra, has resigned amid sexual harassment allegations. Senator Tony Mendoza is facing allegations of his own. (For those screaming but Republicans, we are only mentioning that they are both Democrats in passing, This is not a partisan issue, but some folks do believe their party is better than the other.)
Sacramento has had issues for a long time, and women are raising their voices about that environment. The group “We Said Enough” is leading the charge to change the system. In their minds, this is not about one or two bad actors. They exist in every organization. It is about how the system reacts to them.
The Assembly has done something that Congress should consider. They have outsourced these investigations from an ethics committee, where issues go to die, to an outside firm. It makes sense. It takes this away from people who know each other, to a more impartial body.