The 2020 presidential campaign is just starting, and as with every presidential campaign, controversy is not far behind. Despite nearly 20 Democratic candidates officially running, the man currently in the lead of every poll is a man who has not even announced his candidacy—former Vice President Joe Biden.
According to Max Greenwood of The Hill, "56 percent of respondents picked Biden as one of their top three choices." Biden has been in the lead for months now, and it is not hard to see why.
He has a plethora of legislative and executive experience. He is a classic moderate, which appeals to most voters, and he is a generally charismatic guy. He is liked by the older generation due to his voting record and experience, and he is liked by the younger generation because he is a great meme. To many, he seems perfect.
The perfection Biden seemed to carry has all but disappeared as "four women (have brought) allegations that he touched them in a way that made them uncomfortable," according to Ken Thomas and Natalie Andrews of The Wall Street Journal.
The four women claim inappropriate contact, but it is very easy to find evidence which points to a history of odd touchings by Biden. There are a great deal of photos which can easily be found where Biden is touching women, standing over them and invading their personal space.
Now, are these actions equivalent to sexual assault, and are they unbecoming of a presidential candidate? To put it simply, I do not know.
That may seem odd to some considering I am an opinion writer, but as a man, I just do not feel comfortable judging on the situation at the moment. If I say the allegations are not important or overblown, then I am ignoring the concerns of at least four women who felt compelled to speak. If I say Biden should not run for office, then I am ignoring the many more calls by others who support Biden's character.
Thomas and Andrews also reported how Senator Mazie Hirono stated, "I know that Joe Biden is not a sexual harasser or a predator," and how House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she does not think the allegations are "disqualifying." All of those opinions matter, and I should not force my opinion onto them.
What I can share is what I consider to be the importance of the Biden controversy. The allegations Biden faces are an important evolution of the #MeToo movement, and they will hopefully start a conversation about what is and is not sexual assault, and what is inappropriate in a professional environment.
We, as a nation, must have this conversation, but the Biden controversy has shown the true extent of the problems we face when it comes to discussing sexual assault.
While some people's comments on the matter have been insightful and respectful, others have decided to play political games with sexual assault. President Donald Trump and other Republicans have made comments ranging from hypocritical to disrespectful, mocking Biden and calling on him to not run for office.
At this time, I should remind all who are reading Trump has "more than a dozen women accusing him of sexual misconduct," according to Felicia Sonmez of The Washington Post, and has famously bragged about his sexual misconduct on tape.
I have come to expect nothing worse from Trump, but the divisiveness does not stop on the Right. Despite their efforts of trying to seem higher and holier than conservative voters, Democratic voters have started attacking the allegations against Biden in much of the same way Trump voters did in 2016.
Go to any comment section discussing the allegations, and Biden supporters accuse the victims of being plants by the Right, or claiming the women are overly sensitive and should grow up. Even those in the mainstream like Biden's spokesperson Bill Russo have spread conspiracy theories stating "smears and forgeries have existed in the dark recesses of the internet for a while" exploited by "Right-wing trolls and others," according to Mike Memoli of NBC News.
The fact the party of "when they go low, we go high" has reverted to these tactics shows the struggle the #MeToo movement faces in politics. On both sides, candidates think they can do whatever they want around women because they will have support of those who like them.
Any opposition can be viewed as a partisan attack or as treasonous. The fact we have a president with over a dozen accusations of sexual assault and two Supreme Court Justices with accusations as well, should underscore how important the #MeToo movement is in politics. While it may be attacked by both sides, we as a nation must fight to keep the #MeToo movement alive.