This past Monday, Twitter was buzzing with the hashtag “#MeAt14.”
Created by Catherine Lawson, the hashtag was being used by people all over the nation as they posted pictures of themselves at age 14. Why? To bring awareness to the sexual misconduct of Roy Moore, the Republican nominee for U.S Senate in Alabama.
Last week several women came forward stating that they had been sexually assaulted by Moore when he was in his 30s. One of these women, was 14 at the time of the assault. Others were only a couple of years older, all falling within the “teenage” range.
These allegations were what inspired Lawson, a lawyer from North Carolina, to start the #MeAt14. Since the hashtag was launched, more and more evidence has come to light of Moore’s sexual misconduct. Witnesses are stepping up and testifying against Moore, confirming that they noticed his “unusual behavior” of pursuing teenage girls. One such witness explained that Moore would hang around the Alabama mall and stalk young girls throughout the day.
Moore has denied all allegations made against him, but he is still losing public support. In a poll conducted by Fox News this past Thursday, Democrat Doug Jones, has an eight-point lead over Moore. But despite this, it is still possible for Moore to win. He has made no statements expressing any intentions of resigning from the race and per Alabama state law, it is too late for the GOP to remove Moore from the ballot. The Republican National Committee did, however, pull its funding from the candidate early in the week.
Many politicians, including the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, have released statements asking Moore to withdraw from the election, showcasing a lack of support for the candidate on their behalf. Yet President Trump has not addressed this issue himself to the disbelief of many.
Scott Jennings, a Kentucky Republican who once advised President George W. Bush, met with Trump urging him to take a stand on the matter and intervene in this election. “Moore is embarrassing the president and puts his agenda in jeopardy,” said Jennings.
If the Democrats win this election, the Republican party will have lost yet another seat to their counterparts. And if the Republicans win this election, there will be much public resent towards the Republican party which is likely to reflect in future elections.
Some critics believe that if Moore does not step down, the Republican party will launch a write-in candidacy. But even with this, it is likely that the GOP will lose to the Democrats since there is not enough time for a new candidate to gain the amount public support that would be needed to win the election.
The time constraint could be alleviated if Alabama’s governor, Kay Ivey who is also part of the GOP, postponed the election. However, Ivey’s communications director said this would not be happening. In fact, the governor plans on voting for Moore.
If Moore is in fact elected, it is possible that the Senate would then expel him, but this hasn’t been done since 1862. An expulsion would be rather controversial, but nonetheless, likely.
In an interview, Lawson explained that she was surprised by the amount of traffic her hashtag received. She believed it would get a few retweets, but never expected it to be as impactful as it has been. The picture of her 14-year-old self inspired thousands to post their own teenage selfies, including celebrities. The wave of social awareness brought about by this hashtag has put the GOP on its toes.