The issue of sexual misconduct has emerged as a centerpiece of Democratic strategy for taking on President Trump and the Republican Party. That strategy paid off on Tuesday with the defeat of Roy Moore.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s decision to bring to center stage charges of sexual harassment leveled by more than a dozen women against Trump has forced the White House onto the defensive.
The story so far:
On Sunday, Nikki Haley, Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, broke ranks with the administration, telling John Dickerson on “Face the Nation” that Trump’s accusers “should be heard. They should be heard and they should be dealt with.” Haley added that she is “incredibly proud of the women who have come forward” in all the recent cases of alleged harassment.
On Monday, three of Trump’s accusers appeared on NBC Today with Megyn Kelly, following the publication of articles further chronicling Trump’s alleged misconduct in People, The New Yorker, The Atlantic and New York magazine. The liberal filmmaker, Robert Greenwald, released a documentary, “16 Women and Donald Trump: Hear Their Stories.”
All of these developments are taking place against the backdrop of a pending defamation lawsuit against Trump, who awaits the decision of Jennifer G. Schecter — a New York state judge — who is considering a motion to require Trump to testify under oath in a lawsuit brought by Summer Zervos, a former “Apprentice” contestant.
Democrats go into 2018 with the deck stacked against them — in the House by a combination of gerrymandering and the concentration of Democratic voters in relatively few districts and in the Senate, by the fact that 23 Democratic seats are up, along with those of the 2 independents who caucus with the Democrats, compared to only 8 Republican seats. Ten of the Democratic seats are in states carried by Trump.
Insofar as sexual harassment and misconduct become an electoral issue, it will help the Democrats, but the party cannot depend on that alone to produce a change in control of either branch of Congress. No one knows what the half life of this issue is. Although right now it seems unlikely, it could once again become nearly as invisible as it was three months ago. At the moment, the Democrats’ best ally in building the momentum necessary for a power shift is Trump himself, who has been doing all he can to create the next Democratic wave.