Rep. Anthony Weiner is set to resign after admitting he sent messages and sexy pictures of himself to women who are not his wife, several news outlets are reporting. He shouldn't have to. If the New York congressman didn't violate any laws, the responsible thing to do -- for his constituents, for his team, and for himself -- is to stay in office and work to redeem his record rather than abandon his post.
1. He Should Resign on Behalf of His Team
If his staff don't want to work for him, they could always quit. Indeed, some of them might have. (Some of them did last year, but for non-social media photography related reasons.) Still, I imagine many of them want him to stay, seeing as how they're unemployed in the event that he resigns. As an Atlantic reader wrote to Jim Fallows, "if Weiner resigns now, this scandal will define him and ruin his staff's careers. If he toughs it out, he has the potential to redeem himself, and by extension, his staff." (Jim and Josh Green deftly make the case for resignation here and here.)
2. He Should Resign on Behalf of His District
It was certainly icky! But it wasn't illegal, and it wasn't adultery. Other politicians have done worse and gone on to superstar careers (a Clinton and a Kennedy come to mind) or quiet exists (a wide stance and the Appalachian trail come to mind). I can hear the rebuttal: But Derek, the stubborn resilience of other adulterous and/or law-breaking politicians isn't a model to be followed. It just means that Washington is full of stubborn, resilient, adulterous law-breakers. Yes, the political world is full of those. All the more reason for Weiner and his team to think they ride out this non-illegal, not-adulterous scandal.
4. He Should Resign Because Look at All the Democrats Asking Him to Resign
Democrats ganged up against Weiner as payback for his sometimes errant behavior in Congress and as a way to burnish their own moral credibility with voters. In other words, they're acting rationally to maximize their power in Washington and their chance to stay in Washington. Weiner has every right to do the same. If, or when, he resigns, he resigns disgraced and without a chance of redemption. If he doesn't resign, voters get to decide whether or not to disgrace him in a year and a half.
When our representatives stray, democracy is a useful instrument of punishment or forgiveness. We should use it. Anthony Weiner shouldn't resign.
Image credit: Alex Hoyt/The Atlantic
Drop-down image credit: Alex Hoyt/The Atlantic
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