Kavanaugh’s Confirmation

Ross Kilpatrick

Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice on October 6th  – 50 to 48, a narrow margin of victory in a deeply divided Senate.

Though I doubt it needs to be restated, that is not good. Setting aside the issue of the sexual allegations, Kavanaugh did not, in the hearing, hold himself in an appropriate manner – certainly not in a way that a Supreme Court Justice should hold themselves. Kavanaugh is not a respectable character, not someone who should be honored.

But that seems to be a common theme of current, American politics; despicable people worming their way into respectable, important positions. It should be disturbing for any rational individual – I am certainly disturbed by the trend. But beyond just being disturbing, I believe it is symptomatic of a slow death of the American experiment.

Our country has always been divided – that is not only okay, but good. When people disagree or hold different views, we can negotiate and find a path or solution that’s good for everyone. But increasingly, the issues that our parties are divided over are not only issues of regulation – they are fundamental moral issues and issues of truth. They are issues of how individuals in the government should act, and the purpose ultimate goal of democracy.

Describing Trump as a populist, as many in the Democratic party have done, does not fully capture this issue. Bernie Sanders was a populist. The difference is that Sanders, like many before him, believed that democracy’s ultimate goal, that his ultimate goal as a politician, was to improve the common good – to respect and honor and serve the people. That is the purpose of government, of democracy – that is not something we should be divided over. But Trump has completely rejected that.

Trump sees the government as a way of enriching his own life – he sees the government, and the seat of the president, as a way of enriching himself. He wants the presidential seat because it makes him look good – I find it highly doubtful that anyone else’s plight motivate him in the least. He is entirely motivated by self-interest.  In past, candidates like that would not have been convincing towards the voting population – they would have been judged to be- rightfully – despicable.

But Trump struck a chord – a number of the lower class working population were taken by a kind of societal nihilism – they believed that their situations could not be improved. They were resigned to unhappiness and poverty. The white working class voter supported Trump because he “promised change” – and they are right. Trump promised change – a destructive, havoc wreaking kind of change. Trump is a bomb to the political system – a political system that white working class people saw as increasingly encrusted, slow, ineffective, and sheltered. A political system they believed that was ignoring their complaints.

So back to Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh is another step in that slow destruction – the “change” – that Trump promised to bring about. And that’s why people support Kavanaugh. Everyone can see that Kavanaugh is a pretty bad person – completely morally corrupt, sheltered, privileged, ignorant. But Trump supporters are fine with that because Kavanaugh is promising change – change right now. Trump-supporters are tired with democracy, with doing the right thing the right way – and so they’ve decided to blow everything up.

Most of us, though, aren’t done with the American experiment. Democracy has worked out fairly well for us. Democracy’s pretty good. I would like to see our current Government system continue to survive. But something does need to change. Trump supporters are correct – our system has become sheltered, but they are incorrect about the direction. It is not our politicians that have become sheltered, but instead citizens. Citizens have become convinced that the actions of the government do not affect them. They live within a sheltered world, where politics barely enters into their daily lives. It’s easy to feel that way – the political system can seem so far removed. But that is the wrong instinct – and an instinct that must be fought.

It is an instinct that is destroying our democracy. Democracy, above all, relies on a singular thing – participation. Citizens need to care. And it isn’t all our fault. It’s ways to not care – especially when our two main choices of political party are amoral hacks and ineffectual pundits. But you can’t blame other people. It is each and everyone one of our jobs to vote – to maintain the stability of our democracy, of our country. We rule ourselves.

If you feel like our country is increasingly verging on corruption – then when your turn 18, or if you already 18, you need to vote. Not just in federal elections – but state elections too. It matters that you register. It matters that you get out there. Politicians will listen to you, and their decisions will affect your life. The Supreme Court now has the power to strike down abortion, or gay marriage, or any number of other changes that our country has made in the past. Those are decisions that will impact our lives. So if you care about that, you need to vote. If you are displeased, you need to show that. And if you’re pleased, you need to show that to. If you don’t, politicians are going to be listening to increasingly divided, extremist voters. You, as a moderate, need to vote to.

But if you don’t care, if you pretend that politics doesn’t affect you, it will be your fault next time a rapist is elected to the Supreme Court.