These are troubling times for ethical people. Especially in light of the history we are watching unfold before our eyes. Last week we watched a live Senate hearing for a sitting Judge who was accused of sexual assault. The Senate Judicial Committee is trying to determine if Judge Brett Kavanaugh is suitable to be confirmed to the Supreme Court – the highest court in the land. This court was created to provide checks and balances – a division of power between the other two branches of government. As such it is expected to have Justices who can impartially judge cases and apply the law objectively.
We witnessed a miracle: Compromise from our elected officials. It is a Rare thing to see these days, as Jeff Flake and Chris Coons actually listened to each other and found the courage to reach across the aisle to find a way to stop the destruction of our judicial system. In Jeff Flake’s own words this hearing was “ripping the country apart” and it was deeply troubling to him. Here’s the full interview from 9/30/2018 on 60 Minutes.
Of course, compromise only occurred after ordinary citizens, women who had been sexually assaulted, confronted Senator Flake in an elevator on his way to the hearing. Sadly, according to Jeff Flake in a 60-Minutes interview, this would not have happened if Senator Flake were still running for reelection. According to Senator Jeff Flake, “There’s no value to reaching across the aisle. There’s no currency for that any more. There’s no incentive.”
So now we have confirmation of one thing – doing what’s right, listening to constituents, and meting out justice is not possible in today’s political environment. It is more important to keep the power AT ALL COSTS than to follow the law or do what we elected our representatives to do. It is ok to ignore evidence and witnesses who have credible information that could affect a decision that will affect everyone for many years. It is OK to obstruct justice to politicize the Supreme Court and promote partisanship at the highest court of the land, the one supposed to be impartial. And it is OK to minimize and disrespect the pain and anguish of sexual assault and disregard it as an indicator of character and judicial temperament.
No wonder we have a President still in office who also was accused of sexual assault and misconduct, who has paid off women to remain silent, and a willingness to overlook these same accusations in the candidate he nominated for Supreme Court. If Judge Kavanaugh does get confirmed for the Supreme Court, how will women ever find the courage to report assault again? And how will we ever be able to trust the Supreme Court to be objective again? How would we ever be able to respect Supreme Court decisions in the future?
So what can we do to restore ethical standards in this country? How do we rebuild a reputation that once stood for honor and integrity and accountability and now is completely destroyed? How do we get our elected officials to actually listen to us and represent us fairly? I hate to say it, but the prospect of restoring ethical standards to our nation is looking gloomier and gloomier each day. Especially when people are willing to issue death threats instead of listen to each other or work to solve the problems we face as a nation.
We have to try. Otherwise we’re party to the destruction of our country. We have to speak up, knowing that we could get hate mail or death threats, and we have to contact our elected officials to let them know our opinions in a respectful yet firm manner. It is unacceptable to watch this abuse of power destroy our ethical standards and reputation. It is an unfair representation of millions of people who are citizens of this country. Write your legislators and tell them your truths. And vote in November. It is the only time when elected officials and candidates MUST listen to us. Make sure you’re heard. Or stop complaining.