Why it’s Important the 2020 Democratic Presidential Debates Talk About #MeToo

The legacy of #MeToo means candidates must address sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse as part of their platforms – and, importantly, how these topics will be prevented and addressed within their own campaigns. This week’s first Democratic presidential debate is an opportunity to that.

Time’s Up representatives Eva Longoria, Ana Navarro, and Hilary Rosen recently penned an important op ed noting the significant role of the moderators in these debates to shape the questions posed to the candidates. They wrote, “It’s true that women and people of color share plenty of concerns with white men. But asking those general questions isn’t enough: We need to know how the candidates would approach issues that are of special concern to female voters.”

As the presidential debates kick off, we thought we’d share some best practices for how political candidates can talk about sexual violence prevention and champion safe, healthy and harassment-free workplaces and environments while on the campaign trail:   

Be proactive. Promote a culture of respect and inclusion. In many ways, how campaigns structure and treat their staff sends a message about the political candidate’s broader values and priorities. As the leaders of their campaigns, political candidates and their senior staff are responsible for modeling good behavior and setting norms and standards for a work environment that promotes the safety and well-being of all employees.

Maintain a clear and comprehensive anti-harassment policy. Candidates should put into place transparent policies, procedures, and reporting mechanisms that include training and awareness – not just for how victims may report but on addressing the inappropriate behaviors that enabled this to happen in the first place.

Talk about how all of us can do better to help end sexual violence in one generation. Here’s an example of what a candidate could say: “Sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse have no place in our workplaces, and it’s on all of us to look out for each other. That starts with training and awareness, but it doesn’t stop there. To end sexual violence, we all must work to build a culture based on mutual respect, safety and equality.”

Pledge to put more funding and resources to support survivors and expand access to prevention education. Addressing the serious gaps in such issues as reducing the rape kit backlog, addressing sexual assault on campuses as well as in our military requires a significant economic investment.

For more tips, check out these RALIANCE resources: What Bernie should have said about allegations of sexual harassment on his campaign and Advice to 2020 Political Candidates and Campaigns.

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