Oftentimes amid a scandal or issue the public or other politicians will call for an office holder to resign. It seems strange to me to try to shame an individual into stepping down if they truly are terrible, and to my understanding it is rare for anyone to follow through on it. Is it effective at all, having any consequences?
- It separates the officeholder who is calling for the resignation from the one being asked to resign.
- It separates the party from the officeholder being asked to resign.
- It pressures the one being asked to resign for the good of the party.
- It communicates to potential donors that the behavior is unacceptable and that they shouldn't support the person being asked to resign.
There are any number of cases where calling for a resignation results in a resignation:
- Al Franken, Democratic Senator from Minnesota.
- Chris Lee, Republican Representative from New York.
- Anthony Weiner, Democratic Representative from New York.
- Richard Nixon, Republican president.
Now it may be that the real problem is that they would be expelled from Congress. But the public calls for resignation make it clear that they lack support. This is especially effective when the person calling for the resignation is of the same party as the person being asked to resign. For example, it was Republican Senator Barry Goldwater who convinced Nixon that he didn't have enough support in the Senate to survive an impeachment trial.
I believe this question is based on a flawed premise, as it is my experience that its is fairly common for office-holders to step down amid a scandal. Though presumably while the public is the original source of the pressure, it is likely the scandal-embroiled politician's colleagues that are the effective force pushing them to step down.
Stepping down may also be a preemptive action to save face for both the individual and party if they expect that an ethics probe into their actions would see them tossed out of office anyways - or in the case of a president, an impeachment vote.
Below are the first two scandal-embroiled politicians who stepped down that came to mind, followed by 3 others I found with a quick google search
You don't specify which officeholders you have in mind, but many times the public calls for someone's resignation because it might be the only or quickest way to remove them from office.
For example, the only way to remove a US representative or senator is by expulsion of their respective house, which is very rare. In other words, if a constituency (a state or district) is unhappy with their representative, they cannot recall them, so the only way to get them out of office is to force their resignation, as the Senate or House is unlikely to do it.
Other officeholders might not be removable by public vote, either. As of 2003, at least, only 18 states allowed for recall of the governor. Although impeachment is an option, it's very difficult (as is a recall vote).
So, one major reason people try to force resignations is because it might be the only or the most expedient way to remove them from office.