Franken exit opens way for change

Connor KocklerColumn, Opinion, Print Editions, Print Sartell - St. Stephen, Print Sauk Rapids - Rice, Print St. Joseph0 Comments

During the last few weeks, a lot of national and international attention has been focused on our home state of Minnesota. This attention, though, has not been the kind we would have liked to receive. This is of course due to our embattled Sen. Al Franken, who for several weeks now has been embroiled in a series of sexual-misconduct allegations. Though Franken made a pledge Dec. 7 to resign in the coming weeks, this is just the first in a series of steps our state will go through on the road to replacing him.

Franken’s case is just one of many sweeping the nation in recent months. After allegations by many women throughout multiple years were made against powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, the metaphorical house of cards has begun to fall. Some of the most famous and powerful men in the world have come under scrutiny by accusers and their supporters.

Those once thought untouchable are having the limelight shown on their most terrible actions and are being forced from positions of power. What’s so sad about this is justice is so delayed or late for those who have had to suffer for so much time thinking they wouldn’t be believed. The #MeToo movement that started on Twitter has also provided a platform for those who were unable to make their voices heard before.

Hopefully, this is the first step toward making sure everyone in this country is accountable for their actions and everyone has the right to be safe and comfortable in whatever environment they find themselves in. People across the world have shown they believe in this ideal, and this kind of wrongful behavior is unacceptable.

Sadly, though, what started as a universal movement is now turning partisan. Accusations that are considered to be grounds for resignation by one side against opposing parties are dismissed when they emerge among their own ranks. Every single accusation deserves proper investigation and accountability. Democrats such as Franken and John Conyers or Republicans like Donald Trump and Roy Moore should get no less scrutiny due to their political affiliations.

If there is a way to move forward, it should be by uniting to rid our communities and workplaces of attitudes and behaviors that if not promote, end up condoning such mistreatment of fellow people. This isn’t just a problem for social elites and those in positions of power. There are people in our local communities who everyday have to endure prejudices or mindsets purely based on their gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity.

America is based on the ideal of equal opportunity and that people are equal before the law. That means every citizen of this nation from the richest to the poorest should be protected from abuse. No matter how powerful someone is, that does not give him or her the right to use that power to take advantage of others.

If we want to keep that ideal alive, we need to live it ourselves. We need to recognize when something isn’t right, to speak up when we see people being treated in ways that are wrong. It’s up to us to be champions for each other and spread the word people shouldn’t have to suffer in silence any longer.

So in the coming weeks, I hope Franken will quietly exit the stage. And I hope in appointing a new senator to serve until the special election next November, Gov. Mark Dayton will exercise his best judgment. Minnesota deserves a new senator who represents all of our people, who will advocate for our best interests in Washington, D.C., and who is someone who values practicality over politics.

Minnesota and the world need people who respect others and want to do things in a right and ethical manner. Optimistically, perhaps we can turn a new chapter, as more wrongdoing is exposed, remedies will be proposed and systems can bring accountability immediately rather than taking decades. We can make that change and turn that chapter, but only if we all push to make it so.

Connor Kockler is a Sauk Rapids-Rice High School student. He enjoys writing, politics and news, among other interests.

Author: Connor Kockler

Kockler enjoys extensive reading, especially biographies and historical novels, and he has always had an almost inborn knack for writing well. He also enjoys following the political scene, nationally and internationally. In school, his favorite subjects are social studies and language. Two of his other hobbies are golfing and bicycling.

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