Dr Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee was heart wrenching and harrowing. Under oath, she tearfully outlined in excruciating detail how Judge Kavanaugh attempted to rape her when they were teenagers. No Republican Senator dared challenge her sincerity or the truthfulness of her account. The Republican Chair of the Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley of Iowa thanked her for her bravery in speaking out. Then, Republican Senators voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to a life time appointment on the Supreme Court anyway. In so doing, the Republican Party took a sledgehammer to the court’s legitimacy and America’s long held democratic traditions and institutions. In so doing, they showed just how reactionary and regressive their party has become.
For Republicans, the fight was never about the veracity of the allegations made against Judge Kavanaugh. Theirs was not a battle for the defence of due process as they claimed but a desperate defence of the cultural privileges of powerful men in American society. Quiet as the Me-Too movement swept America, conservatives finally drew a line in the sand when it came to Judge Kavanaugh. They manned the ramparts in defence of what they saw to be an endangered species, the downtrodden elite white male. Spitting in the face of common decency, the Republican White House unduly curtailed the scope of the FBI’s investigation into the allegations, barring the agency from interviewing dozens of potentially important witnesses. Republicans bullied, mocked, harassed and debased Dr Ford, sending her and her family death threats. Police escorts had to be arranged for wavering Republican Senators after they received threats of violence. Senator Lindsay Graham, the man who would emerge as Kavanaugh’s fiercest defender on the right, would tellingly touch on the cultural dimensions of his refusal to abandon the judge: ‘’I know I’m a single white male from South Carolina, and I’m told I should shut up, but I will not shut up.’’ The Republican Party’s abject tribalism, their twisted attempts to exploit the situation as part of the wider cultural wars, was shockingly brazen and cynical. It marked a new low for the Republican Party and their shameless, divisive and arrogant gutter politics. Kavanaugh himself was complicit in this, unleashing a vitriolic and venomous partisan attack on Democrats in the Senate who he alleged had conjured up a vast conspiracy against him in order to ‘’totally and permanently’’ destroy his family. Such bile on the part of the justice served to strengthen rather than undermine Republican support for his nomination.
All in all, the Republican Party’s unabashed attempts to confirm a conservative justice at whatever cost demonstrates their open contempt for the American people and the democratic institutions of the Republic. Conservative senators representing a diminishing minority of America’s population imposed their will over the American people by confirming a deeply unpopular and perhaps criminal justice nominated by a President who did not win the popular vote at election and who has never commanded a majority of the American people’s support in his two years in office. The Party of Lincoln is dead and all that remains is a coalition of deplorable psychopaths whose naked, rapacious lust for power knows no bounds. 25 years ago, Republican Senators disgracefully tore apart Anita Hill before a national audience in their attempt to confirm Clarence Thomas. Today, they have somehow managed to top that disgraceful performance with the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Their attitude toward victims of sexual abuse and assault has somehow regressed in the past two decades. We are left with a broken, shattered party in the grip of far-right reactionaries and ideologues intent on hijacking the American democratic project. What we see now is not the great party of Lincoln but a staggering, ragged Frankenstein’s monster, an abominable affront to God’s creation. Its festering sores crudely stitched together, it is a nightmarish mishmash of raving racists, misogynists and hardcore reactionaries. The storied Republican Party no longer believes in any shared commitment to a higher project, the good of the American republic. It believes only in raw power and domination. We are all worse off for this stunning tragedy and crisis.