Opinion: Democrats need to create a guide…on what we believe, what we’ll take, and what we’ll forgive

  

It’s easy to recognize some things you like and dislike. My mom said even as a baby I didn’t like cheese—wouldn’t let it near my mouth. Now, I’ve modified that: there’s one pizza from Minsky’s in Kansas City that I like. But I still won’t eat mac & cheese.
Democrats are strongly against racism. Democrats enthusiastically joined the #MeToo movement, even if it meant banishing some of their own from their positions and employment.

What is happening right now in Virginia has shown us that sometimes there are layers to these decisions. It’s apparent that in Virginia, Democrats are considering what will be the result of unilaterally applying these standards. So many of those elected to leadership are apparently guilty! And, the result that would leave a Republican governor for the next three years seems to have affected the application of the normal swift “justice”. (Especially galling is the fact that this Republican rose to his office as a result of a lottery-style tie-breaker that gave the Republicans the majority in the House of Delegates).

The circumstances in Virginia have made me want a Guide that defines who we are as Democrats, what we unequivocally like and don’t like and what we’ll forgive with an apology. Perhaps it should be annotated: what’s worthy of a lifetime ban, all the way to what can be forgiven with a sincere, heartfelt apology.

In addition to these political overtones or perhaps in spite of them, I think it’s time for the Democrats and society itself to define our values, before a situation arises where we have to test them? We could do categories: A. what are lifetime sins that can’t be overcome? B. what are sins that can be forgiven? Subcategories: i. does it matter when the sin occurred—is there a time limit? E.g., what if it occurred decades ago and there have been no further allegations of the same misconduct? ii. How old was the offender when the sin occurred? A teen? Adult? iii. If the offense occurred in the recent past, did the offender give an immediate, heartfelt apology? iv. In the case of a “past” offense, did the offender confess and apologize before it was discovered by anyone else?

Race and sex offenses probably would have to have their own decision trees that may or may not follow the same subheadings.

For example: Elizabeth Warren proudly revealed what she thought was a way to prove her family’s legend of having a lineage that includes Native Americans, not knowing that tribes would be offended. When they were, she apologized and later apologized again in what must have been meant to be more correct and sensitive language. In the process we were all educated. I along with many African Americans have repeated the same types of legends in our families and looked for evidence in DNA searches. Who knew this would be seen as cultural appropriation?

For decisions related to sex offense accusations, I’ve found that it’s wise to start by always believing the woman who makes such a difficult accusation. I’m not sure what kind of decision-tree these accusations should have but this could be a start: perhaps knowing about harassment could warrant an apology, while an accusation of personal harassment might be forgiven if committed in the past and not repeated, while an assault at any time in history could not be forgiven.

Anyway, this is a start. As in Virginia, there might be situations where the Guide isn’t followed and there may be reasons who it is not, but it would certainly help if we all had a pre-definition.