This has been an extraordinary week in the life of our nation. Many, if not most, of us watched all or part of the proceedings surrounding the naming of Brett Kavanaugh as the next Associate Justice for the Supreme Court of The United States. Kavanaugh was elected on a 50 to 48 vote—the smallest number of “yea” votes in the history of the court.
By now we all are aware of how contentious this proceeding was and why. A charge was made against Kavanaugh that during his high school days, he assaulted a woman. By all accounts, this woman never intended to become “the story”. However, her story became public knowledge and it all went downhill from there.
For my own part, there is ample reason to feel resentment toward both houses of Congress. That this woman was played as a political pawn angers me. That two other women came forward to tell their own stories of encounters with the nominee and were not taken seriously concerns me. That the narrative in this epic has now been turned into a manifesto of how dangerous a time it is for our young men (due to, I suppose, the charges of misconduct by questionable women) is stupefying.
You can’t know what you can’t know. Brett Kavanaugh may be innocent of these charges. Since there seems to have been no one to corroborate her story, our system of justice declares a presumption of innocence and, therefore, Mr. Kavanaugh should not be denied the chance to serve the Court. This is what occurred.
We all must now move forward. How do we do that? I suggest a few things: first, we must acknowledge the reality that countless women in our nation—in our own families—have been the victims of various levels of harassment or worse. If you don’t believe this, sit with the female members of your family or your close female friends and ask. Many, if not most, have kept this truth quietly to themselves—sometimes for many years. Why? For fear of not being taken seriously. We can no longer pretend this reality doesn’t exist.
We must also begin to hold the perpetrators of these acts accountable. The “boys will be boys” line is offensive and needs to be put away forever. In addition, we must do a better job teaching our boys and young men how to respect girls and women.
Finally, we must confront what has happened to our national discourse—the homicidal polarization—and make a conscious decision to put an end to it. The most chilling thing in this confirmation hearing for me was listening to a candidate for the highest court in the land—the place where real life-changing decisions are made for this country—utter the phrase in deep anger, “what goes around, comes around.” That he happens to be a Republican nominee doesn’t matter to me. I would feel just as chilled if it had come from the other side of the aisle.
And that’s precisely the point. I need to ask us all a question: Are we better than this? I hear poll after poll report that Americans are fed up with this kind of politics. But it doesn’t seem to stop. Why? Because we seem to keep electing the same folks over and over—the folks who can’t seem to find common ground with each other for the betterment of us all. I would remind us all that there is an election coming up. If you and I are really concerned about the direction of our nation, an election is the way to change it. I’m not blaming any one party over the other. This confirmation hearing left little doubt that most everybody is complicit. I’m suggesting that if you are someone who votes a particular party line, maybe it’s time to let others into the room who haven’t been so deep in this muck that they can’t dig themselves out.
I believe we ARE better than this. And I’m not content to just sit back and allow “business-as-usual” to continue. There’s just too much at stake.
Pray for our nation and its leaders.