You had to think that at Thanksgiving dinner tables across Indiana and the nation, a number of women were pondering the notion of running for the General Assembly or Congress.
The reasons emanate from Alabama, Congress and the White House. The nation is in the midst of a social upheaval, or to put it in more stark and dangerous terms, a cultural revolution fueled by an array of sexual harassment allegations that began in Hollywood with Harvey Weinstein and have radiated out across newsrooms, boardrooms, Congress and even 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
In the latter stages of the 2016 presidential race, more than a dozen women accused President Donald Trump of sexual harassment or assault.
It has claimed the careers of news anchors Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose, actor Kevin Spacey, comedian Louis C.K. and others. It is threatening the political careers of U.S. Sen. Al Franken and U.S. Rep. John Conyers, both Democrats. In Alabama, there is Judge Roy Moore, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, who has been accused of either sexual assault or harassment years ago, with at least one of them just 14 years old at the time.
The three main candidates in the Indiana Republican Senate race — U.S. Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer, and former legislator Mike Braun — all have said Moore should step aside. Messer said, “That would be the best thing for the state of Alabama and our country.”
U.S. Sen. Todd Young also called on Moore to step aside, saying, “After giving Roy Moore ample time to unequivocally deny the disturbing allegations against him, those allegations remain far more persuasive than the denials. Roy Moore should immediately drop out of the race.”
Vice President Mike Pence’s Great America Committee PAC began making contributions to three gubernatorial and U.S. Senate candidates last week, but not to Moore.
Rokita and Braun are reportedly seeking the support of Steve Bannon, of Breitbart, a former aide to Trump and a backer of Moore who is seeking his own “revolution.” This comes in contrast with congressional Republican leaders from Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who have said they not only want him to resign the nomination, but if he wins, won’t allow him to be seated.
And Moore could win. While the Real Clear Politics polling composite has Democrat Doug Jones leading 46.8 percent to 46 percent, the latest JMC Analytics Poll had Moore up 49-44 percent.
Trump has tweeted support for Moore. Prior to Thanksgiving, Trump said, "He denies it. He says it didn't happen. And look, you have to look at him also." Hey, that strategy worked for Trump in 2016.
The media asked Trump about whether this was a “pivotal moment in sexual assault” on American women, with a PBS/NPR/Marist poll showing that 35 percent have been sexually harassed in the workplace. Trump responded, “Women are very special. I think it’s a very special time, a lot of things are coming out, and I think that’s good for our society. And I think it’s very very good for women, and I’m very happy these things are coming out.”
Moore campaign spokesman Dean Young said, “We don’t believe these women. It’s just that simple. And y’all can keep trotting them out if you want to.”
The Republican optics against women have been breathtakingly bad this past week.
If you want to keep tabs on someone prepared to “trot ‘em out,” watch Shannon Watts, formerly of Zionsville. She created the Moms Demand Action group seeking gun law reform, which has attracted a million members. Factor that in with the female march in Washington a day after Trump was inaugurated (which dwarfed his crowd in size, hands down) and you get more than a whiff of a movement assembling.
Watts has been active on Twitter, noting recently, “I am thankful for badass women who refuse to go backwards."
The Washington Post notes that during the 1991 Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings in Congress that featured allegations from Anita Hill, there were only two female senators. In 1992, four were elected, along with a record 24 elected to the House.
Scott Jennings, a Republican strategist close to Mitch McConnell, explained the Moore dilemma to Axios: “Either we’re saddled with a Democrat in a seat that ought to be Republican, or we’re saddled with a brand anvil that’s going to drag down the president, drag down the Senate, drag down the party and plunge the Senate into immediate turmoil when he gets there.”
Republican U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake said in a hot mic moment, “If we become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we are toast.”
A number of Hoosier women might be asking on the campaign trail next year, “Would you like some humble pie with your toast?”