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Sex offenders in office: We should be able to avoid this in America

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Sex offenders in office: We should be able to avoid this in America

It’s been a rough stretch for sex abusers who are public figures. It will get worse before it gets better.

There is no place in government leadership for this kind of behavior. From Clinton and Trump, to Moore and Franken and Barton and Conyers…there is no need for our nation to tolerate this stuff. We have plenty of other capable people available to serve in their place. We really, really don’t need them.

We are experiencing a transformative moment in American culture. I envision a future that will feature a new level of intolerance for sexually abusive behavior in our workplaces and in our social settings that have gone unaddressed for far too long. The #metoo movement has a chance to do great things.

I hope the women speaking up today stay the course. And I hope our society has the courage to absorb all of it and act accordingly.  That last part is the thing that worries me.

Many years ago, I worked as a program manager for the Department of Correction in Indiana. During the last half of my five and a half year stint there, I was part of the team that managed the sex offender program. The offenders committed to our facility for a sex offense were required to participate and complete the program prior to parole. It was a difficult program for the staff. It was a profound challenge for the offenders to complete, mainly because they intuitively deny their offenses, even post conviction.

Law abiding people have a strange view of crime and criminals. Many Americans attribute crime with poverty too easily. It is also confusing for property, or economically driven, crimes to make sense when the criminal didn’t “need the money.” Though white collar crimes are easily described as unbridled greed, it is a logical conclusion for many to see “greed” in an overly simple way.

All of that aside, crimes against people, especially sex offenses, have something almost uniformly in common. Almost always, the motivation is to satisfy the criminal’s need for power and control over his or her victim. Greed is the first cousin of power.

Hal Arkowitz and Scott Lilienfeld wrote for Scientific American in April of 2008 an important column about sex offenders, recidivism, and ways to address the challenges. These University of Arizona professors wrote things of which many in the field subscribe. One thing in their article stuck out to me of which our electorate needs to pay close attention. In describing these offenders, they wrote: “Most are ‘generalists’ who engage in a variety of sex and nonsexual crimes as well.”

This was my experience years ago as well.

So what?

This matters in that a fundamental aspect of someone that is to be elected to office is that the public should “trust” them. This is why the sexually predatory behaviors that are being identified in our politicos today are not just warning signs of an incapable candidate, they are disqualifiers for public office.

These men didn’t just cheat on their taxes, though some almost certainly did. They didn’t just break their wedding vows, though it would seem that they all at least did that. They didn’t just shoplift candy as a child.

They all committed heinous acts of power and control.

What exactly would you trust them to do in your own personal lives? Would you trust them with your family or with your finances? Would you trust them to repair your car or give you sound legal advice?

Yet there are people in Alabama, starting with Governor Kay Ivey, who will vote for Roy Moore for partisan reasons. That lacks rationality, governor.

This man has been removed from the state’s supreme court not once, but twice, because he won’t comply with the law. He’s a “generalist” in his life of crime. Given appropriate power, he will commit greater and more memorable crimes.  It is all but certain.

Moore is only unique though in that his abhorrent sexual predator pattern has come to light while in a campaign. It’s the first of its kind since the #metoo movement began. Voters get to respond almost in real time.

The buyers remorse that exists on the decision to elect Donald Trump is a factor. America had the chance to reject his candidacy for these very reasons just one year ago and didn’t. Many Americans regret that. Likewise, the Bill Clinton saga was inadequately handled by the public in the 90s.

I would love to believe that these men could not get elected post-#metoo, but who knows.

Sexual predators are not qualified to be elected in America. They are generalist criminals who aren’t fit for public trust. There is no partisan reason, or any other reason, to look the other way and vote for any of them. Stop looking for an abstract reason to trust them.

Believe the women. There is no reason not to believe them. And vote.

 

 

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Michael is a long time fixture at the Indiana Statehouse and Government Center. He has spent half his career working for the government, and the other half working on it as a lobbyist and public affairs consultant. He started writing his weekly column in 2014, and it has been published throughout Indiana since 2015. He published his first book, Contrary To Popular Belief, in 2016. He is married with two young adult sons, is a lifelong, competitive and frustrated golfer and a workout addict. But mainly he is smart, funny and cool.

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