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Dennis Myers: Political parties can hold us back

Alleged Nevadan Steve Wynn has done his part to neutralize whatever partisan advantage the Republicans had in the sexual harassment furor.

For months various figures have been thrown into the spotlight as sexual harassers or abusers, and Wynn surely knew his turn was coming (at least two lawsuit filings contained Wynn details) and yet he did not do the GOP the favor of resigning as finance director of the Republican National Committee.

If he had resigned in, say, November, it would have been a much smaller story when the Wall Street Journal finally reported his behavior with women on Jan. 27. But no, Wynn wanted the full share of bad publicity for the GOP.

When the Me Too movement began, more or less with the publication of an Oct. 6 New York Times expose of the activities of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, there were plenty of reporters and Republicans who decided it was a setback for Democrats, with their long history of coziness with Weinstein.

That lasted until Alabama GOP senate candidate Roy Moore’s adult activities with young girls came to light, whereupon some of the taint shifted right. Still, the heaviest burden seemed to be carried by Democrats, given Bill Clinton’s history and the resignation of Al Franken.

But Wynn’s activities, which the Wall Street Journal called stomach-turning, seem to have canceled any partisan advantage for any party or person. Which raises the question, why was anyone tallying this from a partisan viewpoint, anyway?

If some middle-aged guy put the moves on your teen-aged daughter, would you ask whether he was a Republican or Democrat? Of course not. Neither would most sentient beings. Yet decades and centuries of experience make us behave in knee-jerk ways, and partisan advantage is one of the first benchmarks.

When George W. Bush and cronies started peddling bad intelligence and false claims that led us into pointless war in Iraq, did Democrats demand to see the evidence, with their votes for war the price of withholding that evidence? They did not.

The lives of some of our citizens were literally at stake, and the Democrats were unwilling to risk being seen as unpatriotic. How did this partisan game help the country, most of whose people don’t care about political parties?

There are real victims of Steve Wynn, and they are someone’s daughters. How do politicians and journalists turn it into a partisan matter? Most people register as members of a political party only so they can vote in primaries. When real victims come to the fore, scoring an issue by party is grotesque.

One of the first things that came into my mind when I heard about Steve Wynn was that the Republican demand that Democrats return campaign money from scandal-plagued Jack Abramoff, so will the Republicans and Republican candidates return Wynn money? In other words, my mind worked that way, too.

Dennis Myers is an award-winning journalist who has reported on Nevada’s capital, government and politics for several decades. He has also served as Nevada’s chief deputy secretary of state.

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