Progressives and Democrats must decide – are they for women or for themselves?

As I am sure y’all have noticed, I’ve been absent from these pages for several months now.

Where have I been? 

An unforeseen event, the shocking US Soccer Men’s National Team elimination from the World Cup at the final qualifying hurdle thus leading to an open Presidential Election for US Soccer President (eight candidates with varying ideologies – much like the primaries for US President) and a major antitrust lawsuit involving my former employer have consumed my time. My knowledge of and experiences with politics now have become more handy in that professional world, limiting my ability to write here.

Why re engage now? 

These are critical times for our nation as the courage of many women to step forward and take on the entrenched misogyny of the American political and corporate world. I’ve been following national politics closely, partly because those developments are related to the soccer items I am in the middle of (the leadership of American Soccer is very tied to the establishment of the national Democratic Party) and partly because I remain completely engrossed by the developments of the last 18 months. I have long felt politics as a game promotes sexual discrimination and misogynistic behavior. Men with power preying on females who want to have a career or want to make a difference because they feel strongly about important issues. The compassion of women combined with the inherent predatory and egotistical nature of the majority of men who run for public office have created an environment where men with power – both real and perceived can prey on females and generally get away with it. In fact this behavior has been encouraged through the years. In direct contrast, women who come forward and speak up  are stigmatized and put in the corner in this society, much as they would in the most conservative and religious-dominated nations of the Middle East, South Asia and Latin America.  For me enough is enough. Time to talk about these things again.

What is at stake?

18 months ago, Gretchen Carlson brought forward a lawsuit against FOX News head honcho Roger Ailes and vividly described a culture akin to a college frat house at the network – something I related to directly because I have found the Florida Legislature, political campaigns, government agencies and traditional media outlets to all have some degree of sexism built-in to the institution. I’ve also long believed conservatives are more tolerant of sexual stereotyping and misogyny than traditional liberals and FOX News always to me appeared to be from the outside looking in an embodiment of this. As someone admittedly mildly obsessive about FOX News’ impact on our country it became quickly a big deal for me. Since Carlson came forward the world has changed but we’ve still elected a serial sexual harasser in Donald Trump, President and seen members of both political parties squirm at discussion of this topic. Al Franken’s resignation from the US Senate has many Democrats upset and therefore wanting to play by the same standard as the Republicans currently do. We cannot do that.

Here in Florida…

I support the decisions of Jeff Clemens and Stephen Bittel to step down from their respective leadership positions in the party. We should not feel sorry for them but understand that times are changing and the standard we hold our own families and friends to must now be applied in public life and in a party that claims to champion progressive values. Both do deserve credit in the willingness they showed to be accountable for what they have done in the recent past. Bittel in particular gave up a great deal that he had worked towards. However, many more who have acted inappropriately in office and in the leadership of the state and nation still remain and unlike Clemens and Bittel they aren’t willing to be accountable.

Also I would be remiss without thanking those who have made a cause out of investigating these situations, particularly those at Politico Florida.  

Politics

I am tired of hearing largely from my soccer associates (who are more indicative of grassroots Democrats than political people) “I see what you mean but Democrats can’t sacrifice Al Franken, we can’t lose this seat or that seat because then the fascists (an interchangeable term of many soccer folks to describe the GOP) win.”  I do concede that throwing the likes of Clemens, Franken, Bittel, John Conyers and the rest out while the conservatives protect their own through one means or another does create a problem. I do find it maddening that a man like Judge Roy Moore who openly defied the law in the past hiding behind his religious beliefs now rallies those who supported him then to his side now when he is not only a sexual predator but a pedophile.

Yes, men make mistakes when they are young that are forgivable in time, but once they are in public office or in a position of power over women, particularly ones much younger than them their actions are forever more hopefully to be scrutinized.  We as progressives must maintain a consistent standard on this issue, the defense and protection of women at all costs, even if it means we lose EVERY election in the near future (because among other things, in the longer term it will work out quite nicely for those who stand tall). This is a moral position and therefore the right one to stand up for women and against predatory men and the institutions of government, media and corporate America that enable them.

Going forward

Women and the protection of women come first. This is a trans-formative moment in American society and politics. I am not concerned about partisan electoral politics. I am more interested in the shaming and outing of the likes of Bill O’Reilly, the late Roger Ailes and others who have used shaming of women as a pubic tactic consciously or subconsciously. This applies to public officials as well. We are undergoing a generational change. Electoral politics and partisan ramifications can wait. For those in the political class, a maintenance of power, access and clients dictates most things so I do not expect those folks to join in this line of thinking. But for the rest of us, let’s work to make a truly lasting change more important than any one individual or congressional seat. From time to time I will weigh in here and hope everyone reading continues to fight the good fight.

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