Breaking a bit of a "World forum fast" to post this, though I expect it won't make me many friends.
Got into a bit of an argument with a friend, but here's my take on this Al Franken thing: I don't want him to resign. Especially under this context. But to be clear, I don't want him in office. (And so, again, I apologize for the clickbait title and opening line.) I get that people will disagree with the bulk of this take, but I hope people understand at least where I'm coming from.
The circumstance here seems pretty clear to me. While I think some Democratic Senators genuinely believe he should because it's "the right thing to do," I don't buy for a second that that is the thinking from anyone like Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer. They're thinking about the political game, and to me, it's a clear effort to try and gain the moral high ground. Amidst all the "whataboutism" widespread in public "discourse," the Republicans will elect Roy Moore to the Senate at the same time the Democrats expel Al Franken. (I am doubtful this strategy is going to work the way they think, given the Republican party is the party of Donald Trump, Roy Moore, and Blake Farenthold.) Seems pretty obvious that senior leadership in the party thinks they can get ahead of the Moore election and potentially earn credit for not making sexual harassment a partisan issue. (Which I don't think it is for every member calling for his resignation, but it's hard not to see the game being played by the big leaders of the party.)
I don't disagree that stepping down is "the right thing to do," but what I would rather see is a process instigated. Have the Ethics Committee launch an investigation and come back with a plan of recourse. Maybe one of three things happens. 1. Enough information is found that gives grounds for impeachment and removal from office. 2. No information is found to justify any form of action from the Committee or from Congress as a body of power. 3. (And I get why this one is complicated and people will think it's bad) Not enough information is found for impeachment, but there is enough to justify a special election in which the constituents get to decide if the person should serve the rest of the term.
The problem I take with the Democratic party pressuring Franken to resign, even if it might be ethically righteous on just a purely moral basis, is that we don't get to see any precedent set. We don't see any procedure or standard for this type of situation. Instead, we leave it up to the parties to police themselves. This concerns me because I definitely don't trust the Democrats to do this consistently, and I know as sure as I'll owe the bank for the rest of my life for this house I bought, the Republicans aren't going to police themselves.
The end result here might be desirable (Franken out of office), but I don't like the process here (in that, there really isn't one). I would rather they codify a process for these situations. We're going to have a situation wherein, depending on the visibility of a situation and the potential political capital to be gained, people like Franken or Conyers resign (and both should be removed from office), while people like Farenthold, or Moore, will get to stay in - a standard that *shouldn't* just be dismissed as partisan politics (as in, Democrats should resign because they allegedly care about this stuff while Republicans don't resign because they don't). If it's a violation of House and Senate ethics, it's a violation of House and Senate ethics. It should apply across the board.
I see what the Democrats think they're doing here, and I know they think they're giving me a desirable outcome, but it feels incredibly hollow to me, and I find it, in itself, problematic if the goal is a higher standard for our democratically elected leaders.
I anticipate this being one of those moments where craving structure ("laws, not men"), I expect it puts me on the wrong side of Democrats and Republicans, but this is my take on the matter. To me, the delayed pressure from Senate Democrats to get Franken to resign, mixed with the fact that Republican leadership is calling for his resignation as well while remaining completely silent regarding Farenthold, and even completely flipping their tune on Roy Moore, is evidence enough to me that this issue is not being treated seriously by anyone in the House or Senate. I want Franken gone, but I want him removed by a properly established process. That way, we don't have to worry about the "goodness of the hearts" of Democratic or Republican leadership to police Representatives and Senators.