Naked Politics Blogger
Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court has been truly embarrassing for America. I say that as a woman who has been extremely disappointed with how multiple allegations of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh have been dealt with, but also as someone who is a believer in bipartisanship.
The confirmation process in the Senate has been one of the most bitterly partisan battles in the last few years and not just regarding the political parties. Kavanaugh’s testimony over the one allegation that made it to the Senate floor was quite shameful and his snarling accusation that the whole thing was the fault of the Clintons’ was, frankly, ridiculous.
Clearly ideas of judicial impartially haven’t quite made it across the pond however, I do not wish to focus on the increasingly polarised nature of US politics at the moment. My issue is that Kavanaugh was confirmed in the first place and the Senator who I would hold personally responsible for making it happen. When truth was spoken to power, Susan Collins turned a blind eye.
Senator Collins (R-Maine) is one of the most moderate members of the US Senate, even being placed to the left of 4 Democrat Senators by GovTrack. Therefore, when accusations of sexual assault and misconduct came forward against Kavanaugh, you can hardly blame liberals for thinking that Collins could save the day and send Kavanaugh packing.
Despite multiple allegations, the backlash from women across the country, mass protests outside the Capitol and high-profile arrests such as that of Amy Schumer and Emily Ratajkowski, Collins chose to let women down. After advocating Christine Blasey Ford testifies her account to the Senate, calling her a credible witness, and then stating her disappointment that Trump publicly mocked Dr Ford at a rally, to then vote to confirm him feels like a kick in the stomach to women all over America.
Ford’s testimony was calm and composed, while Kavanaugh shouted about beers, cried and blamed the Clintons for the mess he got himself into. Despite this contrast and the clear public mood, that still prevails a week after his confirmation, to parrot the Republican line of “I believe she was assaulted by someone but not Brett Kavanaugh” is an insult to Ford’s intelligence and to women across the country.
Part of what is most disappointing about this whole process, is that Collins could’ve come away from this vote relatively unscathed. She’s popular in her constituency, isn’t up for re-election in November and wouldn’t have been the only Republican to vote against the nomination. Unlike her fellow moderate Republican colleague, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins made little effort to connect with women and how they felt over the nomination. While Murkowski spent an afternoon with Alaskan victims of sexual assault, Collins spent lunch with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
While Murkowski’s vote showed she understood the plight that women who are sexually assaulted face and knew the message that voting to confirm Kavanaugh would send; Collins knew the message it sends, but just didn’t care. Rather than listening to women, she listened to her male colleagues. Murkowski got hung out to dry and has been attacked by Republicans, with Trump saying she will never recover from the vote and threat of a primary challenge from Sarah Palin in 2022. So, not only has Collins let sexual assault victims down, but she’s let down a moderate Republican who is being treated as a stranger in her own party.
Despite the depressing feel of US politics at the moment, all hope is not lost. The silver lining of the partisan process is it has energised the Democratic base, with a POLITICO poll saying that 77% of registered Democrats are “very motivated” to turn out in November midterms with Kavanaugh being deeply unpopular. Electing Democrats nationwide sends an important message to Trump and Republicans, and the only light to come out of the confirmation is that it’s clear which politicians are on the side of women.
Republicans didn’t want Ford to testify to the Senate, Trump mocked her publicly and the FBI’s investigation into the allegation was so limited in scope that they couldn’t even interview Ford or Kavanaugh. Dr Ford was vilified, it was considered ‘convenient’ that she’d only come forward as a result of the nomination and Republicans did little to defend her reputation. These politicians have so little regard for women that they just don’t care if a nominee is accused of sexual assault so long as he suits their political philosophy.
Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation has illustrated just how divided America is and how your political allegiance determines whether you believe victims of sexual assault. Even for moderates like Collins, the party label had more significance than the victim speaking out. With midterms around the corner, hopefully it will give American politics the shake-up it so drastically needs after this shameful process.