OK, yes, he will continue to be a figure of discussion. And perhaps you are a person who needs to spend some time holding your assumptions and behavior up against his as part of the collective learning experience we are having as a country. Perhaps he and the conversation he has sparked will teach us all something vital about the rules of bodily autonomy. He will be a vehicle of learning where your body ends and another’s body begins. So, yes. Have those talks. Learn those lessons.
But as for the work of the Democratic agenda in the United States Senate, Al Franken is yesterday’s news. We need to quickly process the feelings we have about his exit from the political scene and realize a hard, cold truth: he can be replaced.
American politics is rife with cults of personality. We love a hero and we love to follow a leader. Franken himself was trying to tread the path of one such figure, namely the late Senator Paul Wellstone. Superstar politicians are are American as apple pie and, well, George Washington. But they are not necessary to do the work.
There are 47 other Democratic Senators doing the work that Franken was doing. I can’t name them all but I could do some hunting on Google and find exactly how many of them have an identical voting record to Franken. They maybe not have been the engine of the Dem train, making plumes of visible smoke, but they are the wheels of the train moving us all forward.
(Good lord, what an awkward analogy that turned out to be. Never mind. I kinda like it and I’m leaving it in.)
Here’s the point I’m trying to get to: we need to turn our attention to finding the next person who can do the work. We don’t get to have Al Franken in the Senate anymore but who’s to say there isn’t some amazing politician in Minnesota – hopefully a woman, even – who is about to step forward and take their place on the Progressive Railroad to the Future.
(Nope. It’s still a bad analogy. And I’m still keeping it. Sorry, guys. I’ll be a good writer another time.)
Our job now is to find that emerging Democrat in Minnesota and get that person elected to this seat in 2018 (and then again in 2020 because those are the rules for replacing a Senator in that state). We will need to elevate a new voice, support a new campaign, raise up a new candidate to victory.
Take the time to feel bad. Then get ready to do the work.