Last week, a report from the Wall Street Journal revealed a years long pattern of harassment, misconduct and even forced sex from Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn. Wynn denied the claims, but with more than 100 sources (some more damning than others), it is unlikely Wynn is an innocent party here.
So now, we are left with the complications. More specifically, the fact that Wynn, until this weekend, served as the finance chair for the Republican National Committee. And that is to say nothing of the millions of dollars Wynn donated to Republicans in the same years he was busy harassing, bullying or assaulting staff.
It’s not a new criticism of the GOP to say the party is hypocritical in calling for Democrats to return money from Harvey Weinstein and stay quiet when their own man goes down. But if we’re going to insist on holding our political bodies to the moral standards we expect from the leaders we elect, we must make the criticism all the same.
Both parties, Democrats and Republicans, are craven. If given the chance, they will game the system so that they might always get the preferred outcome (think back to the Clinton campaign essentially running the Democratic National Committee in the early days of the 2016 presidential contest or to the GOP gerrymandering their way to near-total control after 2010 for just a few recent examples). From a Machiavellian point of view, neither is necessarily bad if we assume what’s best for the party is best for the country.
But we don’t assume this, and no one should.
When Michelle Obama famously said, “when they go low, we go high,” she was certainly tapping into an American idealism about politics. We’d all like to think that our team is not just better than their team, but it’s also morally superior to their team. But so often that’s not the case, that we have to assume the political norm is skullduggery and earnestness is the exception.
So we return to Steve Wynn. We should demand integrity of the GOP in demanding they acknowledge the role he played to the party, and do everything in their power to rectify the damage he’s caused. That includes finding ways to take his donations, in whatever ways might be available to a national party organization, and giving it back to Wynn.
But the Democrats are not off the hook either. #MeToo is many things, among them a reckoning for the donor class of the left. So many high-level donors (perhaps most notably Weinstein) were rightfully disgraced in its wake, and the Democrats should do what they can to show they are not the party of sex predators.
In all likelihood, though, we should not expect much. It’s the nature of politics in this day in age (and, in honesty, in most days and ages). The parties will yell at the top of their lungs that the other party wants nothing but destruction for the country, to leave it in ruin. All the while, they’ll sweep their own scandals under the rug, minimizing and deflecting until everyone forgets.
We just ask that you don’t forget.
The editorial board can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.