The decision of red state Democratic Senators to vote against the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as the next Justice of the Supreme Court is, on a purely political level, understandable. These Senators, who are up for re-election in 2018, must surely fear the consequences if they buck the conventional wisdom on the Left, which is that Brett Kavanaugh is a drunken, misogynistic, sexually assaulting monster – and, worse, a constitutional conservative – who must be stopped at all costs.
After all, if these vulnerable Senators were to disappoint liberals and support Kavanaugh, contributions from deep-pocketed “progressive” donors might dry up, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed leftist volunteers might abandon their cause, hardcore feminists might refuse to support them on election day, and, perhaps worst of all, a left-wing mob might visit their offices and their homes to vent its righteous indignation. Without a doubt, it would take courage for these Senators to defy leftist orthodoxy – courage which they clearly do not possess.
And yet, the substantive arguments for voting to confirm Judge Kavanaugh have always been strong. He is by all accounts superbly qualified to serve on the Supreme Court. He was, until several weeks ago, universally praised for his judgment, impartiality, integrity, and decency. There is, moreover, a long tradition of deference that the Senate has traditionally shown to the Supreme Court nominees chosen by various Presidents. The Senate is full, in fact, of Republicans who have voted for liberal Democratic nominees to the Supreme Court, because they believed that it was a President’s prerogative to choose, within reason, whomever he wished. The red state Democratic Senators at issue might therefore feel a sense of obligation to treat President Trump’s picks with that same deference and respect…but no.
In addition, these Senators might have chosen to support Judge Kavanaugh because that is what their constituents clearly want. Polls demonstrate that, in these Trump-supporting and right-leaning states, voters like Kavanaugh, and they find the smear campaign against him distasteful. Moreover, they would prize and reward a Democratic Senator who looked beyond partisan loyalties and ideological grudges to confirm President Trump’s pick for the high court. By voting for Kavanaugh, these Senators could thus serve and represent their constituents more faithfully, and arguably they could bolster their chances for reelection…but no.
Most importantly, it has become increasingly clear that a deceptive and vicious campaign has been waged against Judge Kavanaugh, at the 11th hour, by Democratic Senators, activists, and left-wing journalists, designed to derail him with mere allegations, none of which are independently corroborated or in any meaningful sense verifiable. That even leftist true believers sat on these charges until the end of the process – that Senator Feinstein, for instance, never even raised issues of drinking or sexual misconduct before mid-September – illustrates how thin the evidence was to support such charges, how reluctant Democrats were to head down this odious path, and thus how desperate these last-minute attacks truly were.
Over and over, liberals have, with a straight face, dismissed the need for evidence and corroboration, opining that a nominee who was tainted, or who faced “credible” accusations, should on that basis withdraw himself from contention or be defeated. Such arguments, though, are manifestly unworthy of any American Senator, who ought to believe in the basic principle of American justice: innocent until proven guilty. Presumably, no Senator sought the office in the first place out of a desire to turn the chamber into a kangaroo court. These red state Democratic Senators, therefore, could have voted to confirm Judge Kavanaugh simply to send a message – that smears must never trump facts, and that Americans remain committed to fairness and to a presumption of innocence…but no.
When these red state Democratic Senators – Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota – faced the question of whether or not to confirm Judge Kavanaugh, they ignored all these compelling arguments to vote yes. Instead, they imbibed and repeated the smears against him, they bought into the patronizing notion that to question a woman who brings charges against a man is to “re-victimize” her (as though women were fragile china dolls), and most of all they quaked at the tactics of intimidation that left-wing activists used against wavering Senators, especially female Senators, promising them unending misery if they dared defy the mob’s wishes.
In the end, Donnelly, McCaskill, Tester, and Heitkamp chose to vote against Kavanaugh, and thus for mudslinging, character assassination, and bitter partisanship. They chose to forsake fair play and play instead to their base. So be it.
Republican and conservative voters, as well as Democratic voters who are honorable and therefore opposed to the politics of personal destruction, ought to draw the appropriate conclusion: Donnelly, McCaskill, Tester, and Heitkamp are unworthy of the high honor of serving in the United States Senate. They are poor representatives of the good people of their states, and they are temperamentally incapable of standing up to the unprincipled and destructive forces that now dominate on the political left. They must, in short, be defeated themselves.
For the Senate to function, civility, rationality, and respect must be restored to it, and a party that abandons these values in a desperate effort to frustrate President Trump’s ability to nominate even a well-qualified Justice to the Supreme Court should never be rewarded for its dishonest and despicable tactics.
Increase the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate, therefore, and send Donnelly, McCaskill, Tester, and Heitkamp packing!
Dr. Nicholas L. Waddy is an Associate Professor of History at SUNY Alfred and blogs at: www.waddyisright.com.