Gil Mertz: Al Franken should not resign

SCV Voices: Guest Commentary
SCV Voices: Guest Commentary

As a conservative Christian, I couldn’t possibly disagree more with Mr. Franken’s values and ideology. But I don’t think he should be forced to step down from the Senate for his past behavior.

Unlike other revelations from sexual offenders that seem to be falling like rain, Mr. Franken appears not to have been involved in any cover-up for his transgressions. I honestly think in his dark world and the Hollywood crowd he associates with, his boorish behavior is almost considered normal.

Thankfully for Congress, being an idiot is not illegal.

Mr. Franken has expressed his remorse, his past actions will rightly stain his reputation, and at least Leeann Tweeden has accepted his apology.

I am not in any way condoning, minimizing, or excusing Mr. Franken’s inappropriate touching, and if has committed a crime he should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

But based on what we currently know, must this always end with the destruction of someone’s career? Or is there ever any room for redemption in politics?

I’m reminded of the 2012 Missouri Senate race when Republican Todd Akin was leading in all the polls against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill. During the race he made the disturbing claim that women who are victims of “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant.

Though Mr. Akin clarified his statement, apologized for what he said and specifically asked for forgiveness, it didn’t matter. No sexual misconduct, no scandalous behavior of any kind, just a stupid comment.

The election turned from issues to a two-word regrettable phrase spoken by Mr. Akin and he was finished.
Today, the media is gleefully obsessing over the accusations against Roy Moore, a conservative running in Alabama to replace Jeff Sessions’ old Senate seat against Democrat Doug Jones on Dec. 12. The very same week these accusations broke, Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez was on trial for actual corruption charges.

According to the Media Research Center, the media coverage of Moore’s accusations versus the actual corruption trial for Sen. Menendez was 40 to 1.

By the way, not one Democrat has ever called for Robert Menendez to step down … unless he is proven guilty.

Just like Democratic Senator Al Franken, I am not defending Mr. Moore or proclaiming his innocence. I’m disturbed by the accusations against him, but I’m also disturbed by how many “lawmakers” on both sides of the political aisle have forsaken their legal training and have proclaimed him guilty without due process.

In the world of politics, Mr. Moore should not be presumed innocent until proven guilty; he is not entitled to face his accusers; his attorney has no right to cross-examine his accusers; no evidence is required; no jury of his peers, no impartial judge, no trial, no jury deliberation.

He was accused; therefore, he must be guilty! Is this what our politics have come to today?

If Mr. Moore is indeed guilty and he wins the Senate seat in Alabama, it sets a dangerous precedent in our standard for elected officials regarding unwanted sexual conduct, if such a standard still exists.

But if Mr. Moore is innocent as he claims, and which the law demands must be presumed until proven guilty, it also sets a dangerous precedent that if you want to defeat your opponent, accuse him of sexual misconduct – which is a serious charge and nearly impossible to defend. In a he-said, she-said accusation, how does the accused ever prove himself innocent? In politics, that’s apparently not the point.

As we gather like mobs for a good old-fashioned stoning of our politicians, perhaps we need to heed the words of Jesus about the one without sin casting the first stone.

Yes, we have the right to expect a higher standard from our elected officials and yes, those guilty of crimes should be removed and punished. But in some cases, are grace, forgiveness, and redemption ever warranted in our hope for a better world?

Gil Mertz is a former Agua Dulce resident.

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