Dennis Hastert, former Republican Speaker of the House (R-IL) and “family values” hypocrite, has plead guilty to a federal indictment alleging that he paid $3.5 million in hush money to undisclosed individuals he molested as a high school wrestling team coach – and then lied to the FBI about it. It is not yet apparent whether or not he will face prison time, but it appears to be a move to avoid an embarrassing public trial.
ABC reports that after his indictment was unsealed, a second victim, Steve Reinboldt, came out with his own allegations, supported by his sister. “And he just turned around and kind of looked at me and said, ‘Who is ever going to believe me?’” mourned Jolene Reinboldt. It is a far fall from grace for Hastert, who once said in 2006 that “our children need to be protected and we are going to do everything we can to protect them.”
Hastert also has the unenviable distinction of creating the unofficial rule which has contributed heavily to the gridlock in the modern Republican Congress. The “Hastert Rule” is a show of collective obstinacy where the House Speaker, who decides what bills will be considered, will only bring to the table bills that have support from the majority of the majority – in this case, Republicans- effectively locking bipartisan efforts out of the process entirely.
The Republican House under President Obama has wielded the Hastert Rule like a sledgehammer, creating the partisan gridlock that has crippled legislative efforts to achieve any kind of substantial progress in our nation. It has been used to prevent discussing immigration reform and blocking the re-opening of the government after the shutdown and other critical legislation.
To the surprise of nobody, yet another Republican family values champion has been toppled by his own perversions. The guilty plea is, at its heart, an indictment of the entire right-wing anti-LGBT movement, revealing that the extent of the corruption and hypocrisy that has come to characterize the zealots is much deeper than it would appear. Between this hypocrisy and the Hastert Rule, it is very clear that the Republican Party has neither the moral authority nor the willingness to govern, and do not deserve a place in our political discourse.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.