An ocean’s worth of digital ink has been spilled regarding the Senate committee hearing last week concerning allegations leveled against Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh. There’s a lot that could be said about the accusations themselves and the ensuing media circus, and the social and cultural consequences down the road.
However, the most important takeaway is that the hearing contained all the elements of a dying Empire, or at the very least the thin pretense of a republic.
Most historians mark Julius Caesar’s rule as the official transformation of Rome from a republic to an empire. However, that transition did not occur overnight. Gradual changes in the form of government corruption and military adventures beyond the republic’s borders helped paved the way for Caesar when he finally crossed the Rubicon in defiance of the Roman Senate.
In the same way, the American Republic did not die overnight. It suffered from countless wounds through congressional overreach, the creation of invasive and unaccountable bureaucracies, and “ambitious” presidents meddling in foreign and domestic affairs. These acts have taken a devastating toll on the public’s generally-accepted understanding about the meaning of the U.S. Constitution and the role of the federal government.
Let’s not misunderstand the situation. The campaign leveled against Kavanaugh based on continually-changing claims is the most blatant, unabashed political hit job attempt in American history. It is self-evident to any honest individual that this is a desperate last-minute attempt to do whatever is possible to prevent or delay his appointment to the Supreme Court out of fear of how he may rule on certain cases.
But we need to step back and realize just how removed the situation is from what the nomination process is supposed to be about. Its purpose as intended by the Founders was for those in the U.S. Senate elected by their respective state legislators to ensure that the person appointed to help uphold the Constitution had a firm and accurate understanding of his duties and was well qualified for the role. Certainly personal character mattered, and had issues arose surrounding their integrity, the process would have examined them and determined if the nominee was unfit to hold such an important office.
The reality is that Kavanaugh’s understanding of the U.S. Constitution would have disqualified him from nomination by any president in the early years of the Republic, let alone permit him to survive a vote by the Senate. And if he had made it through, the process would have heavily revolved around his views on the Constitution, as it is meant to be.
However, his views on matters such as the Patriot Act have inspired little to no controversy compared to the hysterical statements made by people with as much evidence to support them as the accusers involved in the Salem Witch trials, or the peasants in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
If the American Republic were alive and well today, the debate over Kavanaugh’s confirmation would have concerned his views on the surveillance state, torture, and presidential war powers. They are hardly contested by anyone, because there is a bipartisan agreement that these unconstitutional stances are perfectly in keeping with prevailing thought. There is no dispute, because these concepts which are totally at odds with the ideals and values of the Founding Fathers are considered true and rightfully observed by both sides of the political establishment.
And this is how we know the American Empire is dying; not only is the committee tasked with determining the qualifications of a Supreme Court nominee blind to his ineligibility on those standards, but so is much of the American public.
The country is fighting over the content of his high school yearbook and beer-drinking as a teenager, rather than the content of his recent legal opinions. Eventually we will have a Supreme Court nominee who can openly support the idea that the president can kill U.S. citizens on U.S. soil via a drone strike at any time, and the only controversy to be discussed is whether a stick figure family he drew for a kindergarten finger-painting project perpetuates institutional misogyny.
To be sure, that is because one side decided to hijack the political process as part of an effort to change cultural and social norms, but the fact that this charade is taking place and has been allowed to continue speaks volumes about what is and isn’t up for debate anymore.
America is ignoring a candidate’s support for the very things that killed the Republic because the fight over those issues has long been settled.
As it stands, there is no good outcome for liberty lovers in this situation. If he is confirmed, Kavanaugh will perpetuate many of the worst the apparatuses of the federal government we heartily oppose. But if he is not confirmed, it will not be because of his legal record, and any nominee that replaces him will hold the same views.
For all his faults, Kavanaugh’s warnings during his testimony about the damage done to the nation as a result of this process are legitimate. Whether the Senate confirms him or not, the consequences will be felt for years.
However, it might have been avoided if Americans, their elected officials, and judges such as Kavanaugh had been as concerned about avoiding similar damage to our Constitution.