Source: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
By Ryan Chou
Politics, especially after what was, arguably, the most polarizing presidency in modern American history, can turn into a mud-slinging fight. People say and do things that they probably shouldn’t have done, and provocative figures such as Ted Cruz and Marjorie Taylor Greene consistently steal the spotlight. But in recent days, Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz has been getting more and more attention over human trafficking allegations.
While nobody thinks he should be perfect, Gaetz tends to fall short of the expectations that should be levied on a member of the people’s house. He’s known for saying controversial things (Exhibit A: redirecting the blame for the Capitol Riots on Antifa) and intentionally riling up his opposition, and he fails to reach out to the other side of the aisle, with only 16% of his cosponsored bills being non-Republican. While he is undeniably strong at speaking out and rallying for his own side, the numbers show he is one of the least effective members of Congress. He actually failed to get a single one of his bills enacted into law, and he was 8th in the number of absences during votes in the pool of House Freshmen. Gaetz can be known to portray Democrats in a maddening light, yet he also seems to accuse others of doing the exact same thing to him. His “mark” on Congress isn’t a very pleasant one in the eyes of most. While he is certainly not the only one, and this includes both parties, his work has unfortunately failed to do much except further the divide in America in order to elevate his national status.
His past is arguably even darker and questionable than his present. He has called out alleged nepotism when it benefits his agenda, as in the case of Hunter Biden, but completely neglects the fact that he rode on his father’s coattails to his position. Not only that, but he has a suspicious history of irresponsibility, as shown in his 2008 DUI case that was ultimately dismissed with considerable loose ends. Coming closer to the present, in March 2020, he mocked the COVID-19 pandemic that has now killed nearly 600,000 Americans by wearing a gas mask as cases began climbing rapidly. He also tweeted “#Stopthesteal” right before the Capitol Insurrection would begin, and he brought a Holocaust-denier along with him to a State of the Union address.
With the recent child trafficking investigation, Matt Gaetz certainly looks like he’s in trouble. This may as well be the final nail in the coffin, with new evidence against the Congressman seeming to accumulate every day. Our justice system establishes “innocent until proven guilty,” but that’s not necessarily the case with constituents and media. These serious allegations, along with his already controversial image, likely mean Gaetz won’t be able to get away with his recklessness any longer in a social sense. If serious sexual assault allegations alone were enough to oust an incumbent Republican senator in Alabama just three years ago, then Matt Gaetz, despite growing partisanship, would struggle more than he ever had previously to gain ground in elections if he chose to run for an office again. And that’s if these allegations stay allegations; if it goes in the books as confirmed, then his career will be the last thing to worry about.
Matt Gaetz’s career is all but locked in. The allegations pinned against him have put a ceiling on how far he can go, leaving him with the legacy of a divider in the history books.