We Are All Losers In The Brett Kavanaugh Story
I have seen a lot of crazy things in my 12 years in politics. Family squabbles, convoluted fabrications, ridiculous ads, breaking and entering, marital affairs, the occasional love child, and even, tragically, suicide.
I am no stranger to partisan politics; I routinely make a living off of it.
But after eight hours of TV watching and Twitter scrolling on Thursday, I am still stunned. And when it was all over and all the partisan fumes settled, I was, more than anything, profoundly sad.
Twelve hours after watching two lives shatter on national TV, our media channels are still aflutter with spiteful taunting. In the aftermath of the political circus, there is a hardening instead of softening. A persistent moral superiority trumps everything we once valued — honesty, empathy, reason, even doubt.
I cannot help but wonder, what have we gained?
Let me be unequivocal: I don’t know who is telling the truth. I wish more people were saying these three words: “I don’t know.” But the world we live in makes little room for nuance and grayness. In the starkness of black and white certainty, there is only right and wrong, ally and enemy.
Let’s consider two possible outcomes with the mature realization that we may never know the truth.
On the one hand, it’s possible that Brett Kavanaugh did not commit the crimes of which he is accused. If so, his life, reputation, and family are being cruelly ripped apart on national TV.
That should make us sad.
To many women, the character assassination is a just sacrifice for all the women who have been abused and silenced. I hope that reasonable people can see the danger in a mob mentality that sacrifices innocent people, but reason, it seems, is yet another casualty of these hearings.
On the other hand, Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony may be completely accurate, and we watched a man lie his way through tears to cover up heinous behavior.
That should make us sad, too.
Either scenario is terrifying and gut-wrenching. Either will have repercussions that will bubble over for decades. Supreme Court nominations and confirmations will never be the same again. The Bork hearings in 1987 plunged two centuries of constitutionally-mandated “advice and consent” into ideological warfare.
In the wake of the Kavanaugh hearings, what will come next? It will not be pretty.
As usual, there are dire consequences for the media and its reputation. Watching mainstream journalists pile on Kavanaugh with the misguided certainty of “I believe” will further feed the fire of distrust that paved the way for Fake News. Perhaps these journalists sincerely believe they are pursuing a greater good, but these ideological gains come with long-term costs — a lesson they should have learned from the 2016 election.
In the absence of balance and objectivity, the media powerhouses will find themselves preaching to an increasingly small choir.
For the #MeToo movement, there are costs as well. We can all find hope in the many women inspired by Dr. Ford to tell their own harrowing stories. I hope this trend continues. I hope they find the courage to report their stories, to demand the justice they deserve in our legal system.
But the worst thing for the #MeToo movement is to become an organ of the Democratic Party, a political faction that is rejected by half the country.
Finally, there are consequences for our character as a nation and as individuals. As Brett Kavanaugh struggled with anger and sadness during his testimony, Twitter filled with cruel attacks. Too many childish columns have been written with the sole intent to mock one side or the other. Good people who dared to question the lack of evidence were met with hateful charges.
When we lose the ability to distinguish between raw emotion and fact, when we deem half of society unworthy of respect, we lose the very thing that makes us human. Instead of human beings on the other side, we see enemies to be destroyed.
We will become unable to live, socialize, and engage with people who do not occupy our ideological bubble. We will be trapped in echo chambers of our own making, slaves to righteous indignation that convinces no one and changes nothing.
So I return to my original question: After all this, what have we gained? More importantly, have we gained more than we have lost?
Nachama Soloveichik is the vice president of ColdSpark, a political consulting company.