Be it Trump or Bill Clinton, political loyalty should not excuse sexual misconduct

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Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Since The New York Times first published its exposé about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s serial sexual harassment and assault, the floodgates have opened against these monsters. In Hollywood, the media, politics and many other industries, old open rumors are now on-the-record allegations. Men who have, for far too long, abused their power and fame to inflict harm upon those without are being called out for their heinous acts. They deserve to face criminal liability as well.

These developments have led many to re-examine the credible allegations against Donald Trump. At least 16 women — including a journalist — have accused the president of sexual harassment and assault. And, of course, Trump himself admitted to as much in the infamous Access Hollywood tape.

“I don’t even wait,” the president said in 2005. “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”

Republicans have long engaged in a cynical form of whataboutism in replies to such serious scandal regarding their party’s leader. “But Bill Clinton!” The retort was old-fashioned and cruel, since it was not used as an attack on the philanderer but upon the woman against whom he committed his infidelity.

But now that the 2016 election is in the rearview mirror, at least for some of us, the country would do well to re-examine some allegations against the 42nd president.

Most folks think of adultery and a fib under oath about Monica Lewinsky when it comes to Clinton’s sexual misconduct, but many other allegations are far more serious. Paula Jones accused him of longtime sexual harassment, while Kathleen Willey accused him of assault and Juanita Broaddrick accused him of rape. Jones’s lawsuit went all the way to the Supreme Court before settling for more than $1 million, if adjusted for inflation.

It is easy to demonize a political opponent as a sexual predator, be it Trump or Roy Moore. It isn’t hard to do the same to someone you’re not attached to, like Louis C.K. or Weinstein. But with Clinton, many on the left and center are loyal to him, giving him a pass because they like his politics. This is unacceptable.

Fifty years from now Clinton might well be remembered the same as President Woodrow Wilson. He’d be a progressive in his time who completed and enacted real, important accomplishments, but is irreparably tainted by a predilection deemed venial by his contemporary culture and rightfully regarded as evil by modern society. In Wilson’s case, it is his unabashed, vile racism. In Clinton’s case, it will likely be his predatory — if not worse — history with women.

I hope that we can enter a new era when it comes to discussions about such monsters. One in which survivors can feel more empowered and more believed, and one in which the powerful who prey upon the powerless are prosecuted and not protected. That starts with admitting uncomfortable truths.

Horwitz is a second-year law student from Houston.