Al Franken should resign.
The Democratic senator from Minnesota was accused of sexual assault Monday by broadcaster Leeann Tweeden. Tweeden claims Franken groped and kissed her without consent while rehearsing for a skit during a 2006 USO tour to entertain troops in the Middle East. She also produced a picture of Franken reaching for her chest while Tweeden slept.
Franken, a well-respected senator and former Saturday Night Live writer, released a statement saying he didn’t remember the rehearsal “in the same way” as Tweeden and regrets taking the picture.
It’s a jarring revelation about a politician who spoke out against sexual assault just last month. Franken has produced some of the most promising opposition to the Trump GOP, grilling cabinet nominees and fighting against destructive policy like the ACA. He’s been an advocate for average Americans and a refreshingly rational voice in the Trump era.
And he needs to go.
It doesn’t matter how righteous or funny or good he’s been as a senator. If Tweeden’s accusations are true–and they’re pretty damning–Franken needs to submit his resignation. And if he doesn’t, Democratic Party leadership needs to demand it from him.
The GOP is currently circling its wagons around conspiracy theories to discredit Roy Moore’s growing list of accusers. Those theories now include a forged yearbook signature and a bunk body language doctor analyzing victim behavior. Once again, the far right has proven its depravity knows no bounds.
That’s what makes this the ideal opportunity for Democrats to take a meaningful stand against predatory behavior. Forget moral equivalencies–if you abuse, assault, harass or degrade women, you’re out. End of story. For a party rightfully criticized for its repeated ineptitude, this is a chance to finally get something right.
And it isn’t hard. Ousting Franken doesn’t take nearly the amount of courage it does to speak out against your assaulter years after the fact. The Democratic Party wants to be the party of the people, the majority that opposes Trump. Now, it has the perfect opportunity to show how closely it’s been listening to those people and how seriously it takes their concerns.
Sure, they can wait for the Ethics Committee investigation Franken himself called for in his lengthier apology. But when it’s confirmed that Tweeden is telling the truth, Franken needs to go, and fast. The Democratic Party and the country as a whole can only benefit from it.