Missouri State Capitol
Jeff Roberson/AP

Missouri’s Hawley blames ‘sexual revolution’ for human trafficking

As U.S. Senate candidates go, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) is a curious case. In 2016, he ran for state A.G. with commercials featuring men climbing ladders, complaining that ambitious politicians keeping running for offices they don’t really care about, only to climb ladders to some other office.

Hawley told voters he actually wanted to serve the people of Missouri as their attorney general – and eight months after taking office, he formed his U.S. Senate exploratory committee.

I can appreciate the fact that ambition and politics go hand in hand, but I’ve never seen a politician go out of his way to promise voters he wouldn’t use his office to seek higher office, only to shamelessly break that promise less than a year later.

And as the Kansas City Star  reported yesterday, Hawley apparently isn’t done surprising people.

During a speech to pastors in Kansas City in December, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley linked the problem of sex trafficking to the sexual revolution of the 1960s. […]

During a speech at a “Pastors and Pews” event hosted by the Missouri Renewal Project, Hawley tied the issue to the sexual revolution, the cultural shift in the 1960s and 1970s that eliminated the social stigma for premarital sex and contraception that had been commonplace in the United States.

“We’re living now with the terrible aftereffects of this so-called revolution,” Hawley said, according to an audio recording of the event. “We have a human-trafficking crisis in our state and in this city and in our country because people are willing to purchase women, young women, and treat them like commodities. There is a market for it. Why is there? Because our culture has completely lost its way. The sexual revolution has led to exploitation of women on a scale that we would never have imagined.”

He added, “You know what I’m talking about, the 1960s, 1970s, it became commonplace in our culture among our cultural elites, Hollywood, and the media, to talk about, to denigrate the biblical truth about husband and wife, man and woman.”

I’ve heard conservatives complain about the “sexual revolution” and “our cultural elites,” but tying this to human trafficking is a new one.

As for the political context, Hawley is a leading contender to take on Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mon.) in the fall. The last time the Missouri senator was up for re-election, you’ll recall, then Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) alienated much of the state with his infamous rhetoric about “legitimate rape.”

Though McCaskill was considered a vulnerable incumbent at the time, she ended up winning that race by nearly 16 points. Missouri may be a red state, but when Republicans make ridiculous comments about women, voters tend to run in the opposite direction.

It’s something Josh Hawley may want to keep in mind.