Democrats can use all the votes they can get. As evidenced during these last six years, Republicans have amassed a monopoly over the federal government – gaining a sturdy foothold in the legislative, executive, and judicial branch. To add to matters, the makeup of state governments has not been radically different.
Given the Democrats’ anemic appeal to voters and the rounding of the final lap in the midterm election season, the Mark Foley debacle could not have come at a better time. For Republicans, the embattled congressman has been a nightmare – equivalent to a reincarnated Bill Clinton out to haunt them. For Democrats, by contrast, Foley is the best thing since sliced bread.
What better way to dethrone the conservative moral zealots at the helm of power, than by exposing one of their own as a seducer of sixteen-year old pages? Ultimately, the GOP’s claim to fame as being the most morally righteous of the two political parties is up in flames.
To add insult to injury, Foley was not only tarred a child predator, he has also claimed to be an alcoholic, a homosexual, and the victim of child molestation by a Catholic priest. The collateral damage for the GOP has been astronomical, with some estimates indicating that the Foley scandal could amount to a thirty-seat loss.
The Democrats, for their part, are basking in the midst of a bruised and panicked Republican party. Having suffered countless cases of moral haranguing from the conservative aisle, Foley is considered a present from above and Democrats are definitely not looking this gift horse in the mouth.
While I believe that our democracy standing in the court of world opinion would benefit from a shift in congressional makeup, I do not think it is appropriate to exploit the Foley case to achieve this end. As Katha Pollitt writes in The Nation, “[i]t shows you how hapless and shallow the Democrats are that they find so little electoral joy in a principled coherent challenge to Republican rule. Instead, we get tactical theatrics over whatever comes down the pike: last month gas prices, this week Foley.”
Moreover, I find it disturbing that after being plunged into innumerable disasters stemming from poor legislative decisions, it has taken the Foley scandal to awaken voters to the realization that the GOP has outlived its mandate; in short, that we need change in Washington.
There is no doubt about it: Foley is a perverted sicko. Grown men that entertain sexual fantasies about kids less than one-third their age are not healthy individuals. This takes on an additional layer of wrongness, considering that the aforementioned congressman was also the chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children.
However, if we vote Republicans out of office it should not be because of the Foley case. It should be because they have given the executive a blank check to exercise power, voted for a war with no foreseeable end, approved massive tax cuts for the rich and mere crumbs for the poor, been ensnarled in one corrupt case after another, faulted on their responsibility of conducting investigations and oversight, and watched passively as our civil liberties are trampled on by an imperial presidency.
I would hope that voters would be more affected by the fact that an estimated 655,000 Iraqis have died since our 2003 engagement in Iraq. I would also hope that voters would be equally repulsed by legislators like Rep. Dave Schultheis of Colorado Springs who, after finding out about a tragic car accident in Greeley where three people of Hispanic origin were killed, made it his first priority to contact the Greeley Tribune and inquire as to whether the victims were illegal residents. Never mind that the victims were two fifteen-year-old boys and a three-month old baby.
Yes, there are moral reasons not to vote Republican this year – but they are not confined to reasons of “Foley.”
Luci Storelli-Castro is a junior political science and philosophy major. Her column runs every Thursday in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.