After weeks of speculation that Democrats would be forced to disassociate from Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) over allegations of sexual abuse, top Democratic senators finally signaled that they wanted Franken gone on Wednesday. But they’re not stopping there. On Thursday morning, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said that he believed President Trump should step down thanks to allegations of sexual harassment:
He explained, “We have a President of the United States who acknowledged on a tape widely seen all over the country that he's assaulted women, so I would hope maybe the president of the United States might pay attention of what's going on and also think about resigning.”
So, how cynical is the Democrats’ current push for the resignation of officials plagued by sexual harassment allegations? On November 19, Sanders was asked about Franken. He avoided answering the question. He stated, “I think that's a decision for Al Franken and the people of the state of Minnesota. … My understanding is that Al is a very popular senator. People in Minnesota think that he is doing a good job. And his political future will rest with the people of Minnesota.”
So what changed? Nothing. The Democrats just decided it was worth tossing Franken under the bus to take the moral high ground against Alabama Senate Republican candidate Roy Moore, who has been credibly accused of sexual abuse against minor women, and Trump.
Sanders isn’t the only Democrat who’s flipped on this issue. Political weathervane Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who can be trusted to change her opinions based on the prevailing sentiments of party leadership, reversed herself on Franken, too: she’s suddenly anti-Franken after spending weeks uncomfortably calling for him to make his own decision.
How convenient for everyone involved.
With that said, if Democrats do truly try to push out their own bad actors, it will make it difficult for Republicans not to follow suit to avoid being left with the moral low ground of endorsing alleged sexual abusers for political purposes. So Sanders is smart to move down this road. But it's pretty obvious that morality isn't his guiding principle here — political opportunism is.