Brett Kavanaugh: A Human Juul Rip & a Symptom of Our Nation’s Issues

The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh embodies several issues plaguing the United States.  I am honestly not surprised, but nonetheless shocked and appalled at how much America still hates women. Washington D.C. is still a boys club—a wealthy, white boys club. Washington D.C. doesn’t even represent or uphold the values important to most Americans. A majority of Americans actually have to work for what they want, and still probably won’t get it, meanwhile the aforementioned wealthy, white boys club can’t relate. Furthermore, the entire process of Supreme Court nominations and approvals has gotten way too partisan. The consequences of all of these issues is now having the human equivalent of a Juul rip sitting on the Supreme Court. He’s essentially a frat boy who never completely grew up. Personal attacks aren’t productive and won’t fix this, so let’s break this down, one issue at a time. The conformation of Brett Kavanaugh is but a symptom of these many larger issues. These issues go deeper than the surface problem of the Senate confirming a man who perjured himself on the stand and has been accused of sexual assault by three separate women. How did we even get here?

 

Issue 1: America still hates women

 

I am not saying women are oppressed in the United States the same way they are in other countries when I say that the United States hates women. I am actually really glad I was born in the United States because women are born with more freedom and privilege here than in numerous other countries around the world. This is not the time for blind patriotism though, because there are a lot of criticisms to have about the United States. We are at a weird point in our country’s journey towards equality. While women (and minorities) may seem equal on a very superficial level, women are still treated poorly when push comes to shove. One could argue that women in the United States have it objectively worse than women in other most other developed countries. We are one of the only industrialized countries without some sort of paid family leave. While some states have family leave laws, and some companies have generous policies, women around the country often need to choose between the career they want and their family. Men don’t have to make this choice. This can have a huge impact on the political participation of women. In April 2018, Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) became the first sitting U.S. Senator to give birth. Like most working mothers, she faced challenges in her career while simply trying to take care of her child. Her daughter actually became the first baby ever allowed on the Senate floor, but not without complaints from her older male colleagues.  The sheer fact that this has never been an issue until this year makes it clear that women are not only under-represented, but also face challenges men don’t have to worry about when trying create change for themselves and womankind. We also still have not had a female head of state. Many states have never had a female governor. Women make up 19 percent of Congress and make up 50 percent of the population. This is actually below the global average of 23 percent representation by women. We rank 100th out of 190 countries. Conversely, other countries of similar development levels (ex. The United Kingdom and Germany) have had/currently have female heads of state. Other countries ensure the political participation of women in other ways. For example, Justin Trudeau’s cabinet in Canada has equal male and female members and Norway has a quota of legislative seats that must be given to women.

As we have seen in the past few weeks, women still are not believed when they accuse a man of sexual assault. Women still have to fear for their safety every time they leave the house. Women usually don’t feel safe going to parties, anywhere at night or even to the bathroom alone because they grow up hearing horror stories of girls who did these things and were attacked. Women who are attacked have to spend their entire lives dealing with trauma and PTSD and not being believed. The people who assault these women are the President of the United States, celebrities, Supreme Court Justices and more. The good news is that people are starting to care with the start of movements like #MeToo. The bad news is that, clearly, people don’t care enough. While some people say they “fear for their sons”, their sons are much less likely to be falsely accused of sexual assault than their daughters are to actually get assaulted. Their sons might still get confirmed as a Supreme Court justice (or elected as president of the United States) even if they are accused, whereas their daughters will definitely have to live with the shame, the pain and the trauma forever.

 

Issue 2: The government in Washington does not represent us

 

Brett Kavanaugh was born on third base. He a white, cisgender, straight, able bodied, rich man (the definition of privilege). He received an excellent education and his parents undoubtedly were able to give him many opportunities that ultimately gave him a leg up in life.Those who knew him in college described a borderline alcoholic, party boy who never had to face the consequences of his actions because of the position he was born into. Does this sound like some people you know? Most Americans have to make sacrifices and struggle to even get a better chance (not a guarantee) of success. Most students have to take out crippling loans, work summer jobs that prevent them from getting crucial unpaid internships, or maintain a certain GPA to keep scholarships they desperately need. Many Americans don’t even make it to college because of financial concerns. If Brett Kavanaugh was born into a poor or middle class family, he probably wouldn’t have made it as far. I don’t know him personally, so I can’t speak to his work ethic or intelligence level, but even if he was smart and hard working, that might only have made him the top salesman at a branch of a mid-level company, or the best real estate agent in his county, or the go-to electrician in his town. Too much of our government in Washington has a similar backstory. This doesn’t reflect the realities of most Americans. As previously stated, Congress is only 19 percent female, 19 percent racial minorities and 1 percent LGBT. These groups make up much larger portions of the general population than is represented in Congress. It’s not as if these groups don’t have plenty of hard working and intelligent individuals. However, 51 percent of Congress has millionaire status, whereas the average American family still only brings in about $57,000 a year. Luckily, people can help change this. PLEASE VOTE ON NOVEMBER 6TH. It doesn't matter what party you vote for, Democrat, Libertarian, Republican, Green, Communist, WHATEVER. People should start caring about the qualifications of  candidates, and how their candidates can accurately represent the people. Do they ACTUALLY look out for the working family? The oppressed groups in this country? Will they actually uphold the integrity of the office?

 

Issue 3: Politics have gotten too partisan and polarized

 

Oh boy. How do I even begin to explain the absolute dumpster fire that politics has been over the past few decades? Since the 1980s (some could even argue the 1960s), politics in this country have gotten slowly more partisan and polarized. This has only accelerated over that past decade. The platforms of the parties used to go as follows: Republicans wanted a more hands-off approach to government and Democrats were more likely to step in and make changes through Federal policy. There were always some issues that both parties could agree on, or that the parties had little to no uniformity of opinion on. Over the last few decades, Democrats and Republicans alike have begun to pander to particular voting blocks that already align somewhat with their party.  This often ends up intertwining identity with political parties (and with the addition of Donald Trump, the Republican party has begun to pander to people with authoritarian tendencies, which statistically was the most reliable indicator that someone would vote for Trump). This has lead to a partisan gridlock with little room for compromise or common ground. As a country, we need to figure how to include previously excluded groups in politics and work together—even if it means reaching across the aisle. This means sometimes passing up on a Supreme Court nominee who is unfit to serve even though they are a member of the same political party. Back in February 2016, Justice Antonin Scalia passed away. If this political climate was business as usual, the President would have picked a nominee, the Senate would consider the nominee, and vote them in if they were qualified. The whole process is only to ensure that the candidate is qualified. However, the Senate (mostly Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell) blocked a vote on Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, in favor of “letting the people speak” in November. However, the people spoke in 2012 when they re-elected Obama president, which under normal circumstances would give Obama the right to nominate people for Supreme Court vacancies for his entire four year term. The Merrick Garland debacle of 2016 was not  normal. It is a symptom of our hyper-partisan and polarized political climate. Now, the Republican party pushed through an unpopular and dubiously qualified nominee because they feared that they might be limited to a more moderate Supreme Court Justice if they had to start the process over again. Politics have turned into a petty game and the rules are written and bent and disregarded by whatever party happens to have the most power.

 

What now?

 

So while you might not be able to single handedly change the clusterf**k that is Washington D.C., you can still do your part to become more politically active. This means not only voting (as I emphasized earlier) but also raising your voice when you see something going on that concerns you. Also, make it a point to keep yourself educated about politics and do a little research when things interest or concern you. It is always best to know about the issues you are voting on and how they may affect others. Get involved with local organizations that try to solve the issues you care about. Lastly, do all you can to be a kind, compassionate and honest person. This may seem insignificant, but it’s an excellent way to effect change at the smallest level.

 

Follow Her Campus @ Geneseo on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.