Opinion: Brett Kavanaugh and the Further Polarization of the Electorate

Posted on: October 2, 2018, by :

By Jeff Turner

Last Thursday’s “Historic Hearing” (as CNN referred to it), where the Senate Judiciary Committee heard sworn testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, was a new low in American politics. And that says a lot, considering the current occupant of the Oval Office. Senate Republicans and Democrats engaged in theatrical, circus-like performances, both sides at fault. Had South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham not pointed the finger solely at Democrats for the vitriolic, mob-like mentality that has fueled the debate revolving around the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh at the hearing, he would have had an excellent point.

The fact of the matter is, two people’s lives have been irrevocably changed, Dr. Ford’s and Judge Kavanaugh’s, all because of the highly polarized, hyper partisan nature of Washington. I cannot say whether or not Kavanaugh did indeed sexually assault Dr. Ford more than thirty-five years ago, while they were both in high school. But I did find Dr. Ford’s testimony compelling and believable. At the same time, I found Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony to be very unprofessional, his demeanor not what I would expect, or wish to see, of a Supreme Court Justice. His partisan responses to the questions posed to him clearly illustrate this, blaming his woes on the Clintons and Senate Democrats in a manner akin to a petulant child.

Had Judge Kavanaugh been falsely accused I could understand his angry reaction to the proceedings last Thursday. Or his reaction could have been triggered by the fact the events happened more than thirty-five years ago and he feels that they should have no bearing on his SCOTUS nomination. Of course, if he admitted wrongdoing, he’d never be confirmed. So a denial, in the absence of any real proof, is the logical move for him.

The fact of the matter is that the entire situation was poorly handled by those on both sides of the aisle. All it has done is exacerbate the partisan divide in Washington. Republicans and Democrats are polar opposites in regards to their reactions to the hearing, especially here in Indiana, a red state that Trump won by almost twenty points in 2016.

“Methinks she doth protest too much,” said one Indiana woman I spoke to in regards to Dr. Ford’s testimony. “What guy hasn’t grabbed a girl’s butt at a party?” This was, of course, a tongue in cheek remark in regards to the situation. Though looking at the comments on articles pertaining to the Kavanaugh assault allegations, there are people who actually do feel this way.

Democrats however, tended to have a different reaction. “I think Brett Kavanaugh had or has a drinking problem, and (that) the events most likely went down as Ford described,” said an Indiana Democrat I talked to. He added: “I don’t know if he doesn’t remember because of the alcohol or because it was the 1980’s and that kind of behavior was no big deal back then, or he’s straight up lying. (There’s) not enough evidence that he should have criminal charges brought against him, but I think it’s sufficient that he shouldn’t be confirmed to the Supreme Court.”

Regardless of whether Kavanaugh is guilty of the sexual assault allegations, his demeanor at last Thursday’s hearing, his hostile, combative attitude, is not what we need in a Supreme Court Justice. Yes, the matter was handled poorly. But Thursday’s hearing allowed us to see the real Brett Kavanaugh. I applaud Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly for his opposition to the nomination in a predominately red state. The partisan divide on this issue couldn’t be more clear. Kavanaugh’s nomination has only further polarized the electorate.

Sexual assault is a VERY serious matter, and all allegations should be taken seriously. The same Republicans jumping to Kavanaugh’s defense would be doing the exact opposite had this been a Democratic SCOTUS nominee named by, say, Barack Obama who had been accused of sexual assault. Then again, in this hypothetical scenario, certain Democrats might not be as hostile towards the nominee either.

There is a way to heal some of this damage however. And that would be for the Senate to vote against confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, to find a nominee more along the lines of Anthony Kennedy, not a partisan. Of course, in all likelihood, Kavanaugh will be confirmed. But this is a mistake, one that will have devastating consequences on this nation as a whole. Kavanaugh does not have the temperament to be a Supreme Court Justice who would fairly arbitrate on cases before the Supreme Court, his partisan bias all the more clear. We deserve better from our elected leaders in Washington.

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