House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) took some heat on Sunday after she said the embattled Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) was an icon and should be afforded due process amid sexual harassment allegations. She’s right. He’s an icon, but it’s time for him to retire from politics. He’s becoming a liability for the party.
Conyers, a veteran of the Korean War, is an icon for a number of reasons. For starters, he was the force behind civil rights legend Rosa Parks’ body lying in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. Parks worked as his secretary at one point. He co-founded the Congressional Black Caucus in 1969 after he won an election to the House in 1964. He was instrumental in establishing Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a federal holiday and has done many great things throughout his career in public office.
Conyers also submitted the United States National Health Care Act bill in 2015, though it was first introduced in 2003. It exapanded and improved the Medicare for All Act. Further, it called for the creation of a universal single-payer health care system. He pushed for this when it wasn’t even popular.
In 1965, he won a seat on the influential House Judiciary Committee, where he served as Ranking Democrat until he agreed to step down last week-end amid the sexual harassment scandal. He has been on the front lines in the fight for civil rights and justice for people of color.
People are willing to give former President George H. W. Bush a pass for groping women because of his age and health-related issues. The Hill reports, “Melanie Sloan, who formerly headed Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and worked for Conyers from 1995 to 1998, told The Washington Post on Wednesday that Conyers asked her to come to his Rayburn Building office at one point, where she found him in his underwear.” This is not normal behavior. There’s more going on with this man.
The sexual harassment allegations against Conyers are very serious, but he should be afforded due process like everyone else. Donald Trump, who was heard on tape bragging about grabbing women by the genitals is still in the White House. It seems as though he has literally silenced his accusers. Lisa Bloom, who represents one of Conyers’ accusers, wants him to release her client from the confidentiality agreement. If that’s the case, the woman should return the money she took when she settled with him.
I heard Conyers speak during a press conference some Democratic lawmakers held a few months ago and I was taken aback by his slowness when he started speaking. He even seemed to be somewhat confused. I thought to myself then that it was time for him to retire from politics. It’s unfortunate that he will be forced out mired in a sexual harassment scandal. So, yeah, he’s an icon, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be held accountable for bad behavior. He needs to resign from Congress.