Ralph Waldo Emerson said that. I merely cut and pasted.
(And in case the president is reading this and says he’s “heard a lot of good things about what Emerson is doing,” Emerson died in 1882—thirteen years before Frederick Douglass.)
I thought of Emerson’s statement because I was troubled by my tirade about Jeff Flake and wondering if I should delete it.
First off, he has to own up publicly for what he does and says: on a level playing field, so should we. It can be argued that the playing field is hardly level anymore, but we’ve allowed that to happen and it may not be Flake’s fault as much as it is ours.
After all, it has been our cynical assessments of politics—why vote, both parties are the same, or why vote, they’re all crooks; or, why vote, it’s only for a representative?—all of that and more has turned us into a non-participatory nation with off-year voting turnouts of less than 40% common. Think of ten people you know: six of them won’t vote this November.
You can deflect and grumble about voter suppression—red-state shenanigans do occur and do suppress the minority vote—but blasé Americans have done a better job of it than gerrymandering or any other Machiavellian Republican plot.
So there’s that.
But also, I have to remind myself that Flake, Collins, Murkowski, and Corker—because they aren’t cultish and tribal—are the only ones we look to for rescue. That isn’t fair either. How would Ted Cruz or John Cornyn have fared yesterday, facing those angry and disgusted women outside that elevator? And how about Deb Fischer from Nebraska. No, she’s not on the committee, but she is a woman, and she is another senator who has issued support for Kavanaugh: how would she have dealt with those protesters? (Check out her website and voting record for a really big clue.)
It isn’t necessarily wrong to burden Flake, et al., with the onus of doing the right thing for the country instead of the party—all elected officials who take that oath are required to put the Constitution first. But we don’t do ourselves any favors when we profess to know the motives of people who don’t agree with us. I’m afraid I did that, and as a reminder, my snarky post remains.
So does the ensuing one.
Finally, I have written very little about Christine Blasey Ford. Somehow to claim I believe her or I found her testimony compelling is little more than damning with faint praise. She was so much better than that. I do think that even with the best intentions, men often make a mess of capturing the emotional narrative of sexual assault. And so I refer you to an article by Jessica Bennett in today’s New York Times. You must read it, but if you don’t have the time, just glance at the photo under the headline. If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know about Christine Blasey Ford, then reading the article probably won’t make a difference.