One Way Out

There’s a quote from Washington’s farewell address that’s liberally applied when vilifying political parties in contemporary America.

“…they (parties) are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

Parties are evil. Washington said it and we’ve since learned it. They serve themselves at the expense of America.

This is the mantra of the independent. Or maybe more cynically, of the partisan trying to urge opponents to be less committed to their opposition.

It’s helpful to realize what place quotes from our centuries dead founders ought to play in modern discourse. They weren’t deep secrets of accountable government coming from political deities with an all knowing view of the arc of human events, from beginning to end. They were proclamations of men from the cradle of democracy with far less knowledge and experience with it than we have today.

Their founding genius was the course set and the crude methods they fashioned to travel it. Not sooth saying on what the journey would bring. Or how one was to react once encountering it. For all Washington’s stoic genius, he got this one wrong.

Political parties haven’t, and won’t, destroy us. On the contrary, they’ve enabled broad coalitions of governed to agree on basic principles for decisions in government. They are a non-optional part of democracy.

They define first principles. They give us sides to choose.

Today at 5PM EST, the Senate is going give us a clear view of what contemporary sides are when they vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh was selected by a democratically elected president to replace a retiring justice. That retiring justice, having served for 30 years on the Supreme Court as the non-partisan “swing vote”, recommended Kavanaugh, one of his former clerks. When selected, Brett Kavanaugh, based on his positions, experience and endorsement by Kennedy, was considered the most logical pick for the position. It was one of the few conventional decisions President Trump has made.

The Senate conducted hearings. They heard testimony, including an accusation of sexual assault that occurred when Kavanaugh was a minor. We heard about the nominee’s college behavior. We learned about his yearbook blurb and what it may or may not have meant. By any reasonable standard, Brett Kavanaugh was vetted.

Enough or too much is a political debate.

I’ve made my views clear. It’s hard to see how, with what’s at stake, a Justice Kavanaugh will be a healing presence in an American government that so deeply needs healing. And yes I get that there’s some chance that I’m being unfair in my opinion. It’s also my view that opinions could change the instant Brett Kavanaugh expresses, from the bench, that Roe v Wade is settled law, not up for further judicial review.

It’s not my views that count right now though. It’s the 100 men and women of the United States Senate.

This is the process.

What we’ll learn today, if we’re smart, will be unwritten planks in the 2018 election and beyond. Whether we have narrow or broad definitions of what is considered sexual assault. I prefer broad. Whether we have narrow or broad definitions of acceptable behavior for our elected or lifetime appointed members of government. I prefer narrow.

Those calling for candidates to withdraw, for law enforcement to intervene or for future impeachment activities are doing it again. That thing we did two years ago when we threw around the “D” word–disqualified– liberally in hopes that the ref would stop the fight and let us off the hook.

This selection was decided when we elected Donald Trump president and voted a Republican majority in the House and Senate. We can’t rewrite the score. Nor does screaming Merrick Garland in response change it. The Senate, even in 2016, was elected by us. And they placed a huge bet on Trump. And they won. Because of our vote.

There’s only one way out of this. If this outcome, a president with broad definitions of acceptable behavior selecting a supreme court candidate with some evidence of the same, then there’s only one way out, by design.

The vote.

The system, is doing exactly what it’s supposed to. It only works, if we do the same.

34 days six hours until the election.

759 days until the 2020 election. Register. Vote.

It’s the only way out.

Categories: Politics

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7 replies »

  1. “a president with broad definitions of acceptable behavior selecting a supreme court candidate with some evidence of the same.”
    To equate these two in this sentence is completely irresponsible.


    • I’m sorry, but let’s not go down the route of hyperbole here. Sean is being quite magnanimous and reasonable. First of all, there is no “equivalence” here. “Some evidence of the same” is not saying that Kavanaugh is as bad as Trump or even that he has been proven to be bad at all. There is INDEED some evidence (NAMELY, HIS BEHAVIOUR UNDER QUESTIONING) that he may have a similar bent as this president. That evidence may be misleading, or have some alternative explanation, but it is “some evidence” and from a person with an open mind and open eyes ENTIRELY responsible.


  2. Saying “we elected” is generous – and possibly erroneous – until Mueller wraps up his investigation. Perhaps I too am being unfair, but if the process (such as it was) was corrupted, then everything that occurred after that process is suspect and possibly invalid. It’s one thing if we Americans elect the President all on our own. It is another thing entirely if a foreign actor was leveraging their cash and our own institutions against us to affect the outcome – especially if one of the parties in the contest was complicit.


    • If we the people Did not actually vote Trump into office matt, That would have been proved long ago. Your claims of foreign intervention go no further than trying to use fake news to get what they want. The Mainstream Media is far more guilty about misleading Americans than any foreign power. Once the Swamp is Draining, So much more information will be forthcoming.


      • Shannon, I think the people who read and reply to this blog are a little beyond conspiracy theories and fuzzy thinking. The exact legitimacy of the Trump election being “proved long ago” does not comport with – in your thinking – “much more information will be forthcoming” when the “swamp” drains. If things are so bad that a virtual dictatorship of misinformation is ruling the US, how could anything be proved quickly. You believe this because you believe D Trump who says things you like to hear. And Trump agrees with an actual dictator (Putin) that nothing happened from said dictator’s country, despite what your country’s own intelligence agencies say. That doesn’t make sense. I could go on, but the onus is on you. Provide information and provide on a logical (2+2=4) basis. If you cannot do that, you are part of the problem. YOU are part of the swamp.


  3. How do we deal with a Senate, that do to demographics is going to be giving the R’s a majority? Vote for better R’s? I am more open to conservative thought than I have have been in my life, but yesterday the R party lost all appeal to me, they are corrupt to the bone. How can good people run against that? who would vote for these good people when you have people who are spiteful and full of hate voting?

    I have never felt so discouraged. I am feeling the same way as on on 11/9 today. This was an attack on our democracy. Kavanaugh should not have been confirmed for multiple reasons – ongoing alcoholism and pattern of sexual predation withstanding – his highly partisan career, his work for Bush, most hidden, his work with Ken Starr, and finally, how he acted on THURS in his hearing. A big entitled whiny angry baby. Is this who should be judging us?

    The FBI check was a farce…..Also, Kavanaigh was handpicked and Trump stood by him, because Trump expects his loyalty when Trump cases come up to SCOTUS. And my bets, is after all this, Trump will get that loyalty, and that is what scares me more, even more than his face on that THURS being the same as my rapists when I confronted him. The same words, the same spittle, the same defiance.