The ultimate judgment comes based not on which political party you belonged to, or how loyal you were to that party, but on how you lived your life.

Democrats hoping to paint their party as one of zero tolerance for sexual assault have a long climb from the basement they put themselves in years ago to the moral high ground they seek today.

Minnesota U.S. Rep. Al Franken became the second Democratic Washington politician to resign over allegations of sexual assault on Thursday. The party had basically stood with him until earlier in the week, despite initial claims of sexual assault or unwanted sexual contact, until more allegations surfaced earlier in the week. Michigan Sen. John Conyers resigned Tuesday after allegations of sexual misconduct arose against him. As with Franken’s case, Democrats had largely stood by the 88-year-old senator up until the end.

But with Alabama set to elect a Republican accused of sexual abuse of teenagers and minors, with scrutiny of President Donald Trump’s bragging comments of how he groped women which came to light during the presidential campaign, and with a growing tide of women from all ranks coming forward to say how they were abused by men in power, Democrats in Washington apparently have decided it is politically better for the party if they position themselves as the party against sexual abuse.

You could say better late than never, or you could say that at least they aren’t as bad as the GOP, whose voters appear poised to elect an accused child predator over voting for – gasp – a Democrat. But in reality it was the Democrats who set us on this path 19 years ago this month when they turned a blind eye toward Democratic President Bill Clinton’s sexual misconduct in office.

They’ll tell you it was different. They’ll use words like “consensual” or, as they did at the time, say the president’s personal life has nothing to do with his performance as president. But the truth of the matter is that we are talking about a person in power who is taking advantage of that standing for personal gain.

Sound familiar? From big name television personalities to politicians to corporate executives, the pattern of males in power holding their authority over subordinates as a weapon to illicit sexual favors has been going on for generations. In the case of Hollywood stars, the picture of the casting couch was so well-known that it became a story line in some actual productions.

Back in December 1998 when the U.S. House voted to impeach Clinton, there were not too many Democrats who went along with the GOP-controlled House effort. In the Senate in early 1999, where a two-thirds majority vote was needed to impeach, it was pretty much a party line vote and Clinton was able to survive.

And so the stage was set. Democrats didn’t mind if the president engaged in sexual acts with an intern, as long as he did well as Commander In chief. Clinton did and still does have a magnetic personality. His legion of fans would likely follow him to the ends of the earth even today. Does that sound familiar too?

Trump’s legion of fans has in one short year followed him through a morass of continual lies, missteps and screw-ups, but they still stand with him. They can look at actual photographic evidence showing a smaller inauguration crowd and still proclaim authoritatively that the photo with fewer people actually shows a larger crowd. They can watch a video of Trump saying he liked to grope women and then nod in agreement as he denies he said it, shouting “fake news” despite the evidence they can plainly see with their own eyes.

That type of blind loyalty is scary. And it doesn’t matter whether the loyalty is to a smooth talker named Clinton or a more gruff but equally manipulative Trump.

Democrats may be able to convince voters that they are the party of purity standing up to and not tolerating sexual abusers in their midst. But I’m pretty sure that the only reason they have discovered this new morality is because they have determined it to be politically beneficial. If there was no movement growing and gaining momentum around this issue, if more women were not coming forward just about every day, I’d say they probably would still be circling the wagons protecting their members just as the GOP continues to do around their leaders.

Neither party can claim ownership of a moral high ground here, although Democrats, if they continue on this path, could conceivably say that they have seen the error of their ways and rediscovered the value of basic human decency, morality and values.

The lesson here, for voters, is that blindly following your chosen political party to the point where you forsake your own personal values and morality will lead you, in all inevitability, straight to the gates of hell. That’s because the ultimate judgment comes based not on which political party you belonged to, or how loyal you were to that party, but on how you lived your life.

 Jim Lee is Editor for Gatehouse Media Delaware. Email him at jim.lee@doverpost.com.