Bad Precedents

No one is happier than I to see Roy Moore crashing down in flames (assuming he doesn’t have the shoot-someone-on-fifth-avenue effect going for him). The evidence against him is already overwhelming and corroborated by people who have known him in the past[1]. We have multiple women, who were contacted by journalists and not the other way around, offering similar stories about the same person despite not knowing each other. If Moore has any decency, he’ll step down, and if the people of Alabama have any decency, they’ll vote against him if he doesn’t.

What I find concerning is the precedent being set of believing accusations by default. I’m going to avoid the moral issue of when one should believe rape accusations and stick to the strategic aspect. It’s sad that there even has to be a strategic aspect to this, but unfortunately the way some prominent figures have responded will make it much easier for dishonest politicians to manufacture scandals for their opponents.

Mitt Romney, for one, tweeted this in response to the case brought forward by the Post:

mitt romney

While we should hold those in power (or those who seek it) to higher standards than private individuals, anyone with a shred of pragmatism should be able to see the opening this mentality creates for bad actors in the political process. Anyone in a political campaign who publicly states that “innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections” and then gets accused of sexual harassment will be forced to either step down or get hammered for being a hypocrite. Does anyone seriously think that there won’t be any candidates that would abuse this? It would be almost comically easy to create a scandal, first for the allegation itself, and second for the discrepancy between their claims and their actions.

Unfortunately, this inability to see second- and third-order consequences seems to be endemic to much of the left and the broader anti-Trump coalition in general. I have limits to my utilitarianism, but anything that jeopardizes the cause of correcting the nation’s course should come under severe scrutiny before anyone puts it into action, and in a case as clear-cut as Moore’s, we shouldn’t have to rely on overreaction to make our case that he should step down.

[1] Watson, K. (2017, November 11). Roy Moore’s former colleague says it was “common knowledge” he dated teens. Retrieved November 11, 2017, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/teresa-jones-says-roy-moore-common-knowledge-dated-teens/

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