The Kavanaugh Nomination: A Symptom

Sexual assault usually involves the exercise of power grounded in a lack of empathy. As an adolescent, Brett Kavanaugh displayed a serious lack of empathy. As a judge, his opinions have done the same. That lack of empathy disqualifies him from serving on the Supreme Court. But Democrats and Republicans have ignored those issues.

Selfish ambition is our society’s primary problem. The pursuit of power by climbing social ladders is the System’s driving force. One result is the abuse of power.

Two days prior to the Kavanaugh hearing, a New York Times editorial recommended to the Senate Judiciary Committee thirteen critical questions to be posed to Kavanaugh. The Democrats could have made certain that they asked those questions. They could have pushed Kavanaugh to talk about his “bro” culture. They could have challenged him to admit that his buddies’ behavior was more than adolescent hijinks -- it was sexism. If he’s unwilling to acknowledge and apologize for that sexist disrespect, he can’t be trusted to serve on the Supreme Court.

They could have inquired more deeply into the lack of respect toward women reflected in his yearbook, his membership in Yale’s all-male secret society known as “Tits and Clits,” the nature of his fraternity and its misogynist reputation, the numerous quotes from classmates about his lack of respect for women, why they called an alleged drinking game “Devil’s Triangle” and how they played it, and what it means to drink “too much.”

They could have asked many more similar fact-finding questions that would have clarified inconsistencies and undermined his credibility.

They could have explored whether his refusal to apologize for his sexism reveals a tendency to disrespect those who are less powerful -- and whether that tendency has been reflected in his judicial rulings, as it has.

They could have probed whether his faith affects his opinions about power.

They could have asked him, “Given the cloud that would be over the Court, why do you still want to serve? Why not step aside for someone else? Don’t you care about the Court’s legitimacy? Are your selfish desires that important?”

With that approach, they could have educated the American people about compassionate values rooted in deep respect. They could have addressed the need to deal with the abuse of power that pervades society -- and the need for a Supreme Court that is sensitive to that issue.

But instead they primarily tried to boost their own careers by making shallow speeches and maneuvering to win the next election.

That’s the primary problem with our political parties. They’re obsessed with winning the next election.

Until the Democratic Party commits to growing compassionate communities whose members help each other overcome our deeply ingrained tendencies to abuse power, our best hope may be for grassroots organizations to fill that void.

Black Lives Matter and #MeToo are encouraging signs. The Kavanaugh nomination has been painful. But seeing so many women speak their truth is heartening. Hopefully more and more men will listen.