Kavanaugh debate offers us some lessons
The bitter debate surrounding United States Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh provides an instructive lesson in how blind party loyalty could disrupt democracy in Bermuda.
Earlier this summer, Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh to be one of the nine members of the Supreme Court.
This lifetime appointment has the potential dramatically to alter US law on a wide variety of issues, ranging from abortion and corporate regulations to environmental policy.
The nomination is significant because Kavanaugh could shift the court towards more conservative opinions than the American public has grown accustomed to over the past few decades.
With the ideological identity of the court in balance, partisans on both sides of the aisle have pulled out all the stops to influence the public debate. Amid this political theatre, three women have come forward to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct in the early 1980s.
Given the vast amount of time that has passed since the events allegedly took place, not surprisingly, there is a noticeable lack of witnesses and evidence concerning the facts in the case.
In this “he said, she said” environment, powerful Democrats and their supporters across the country have lined up in support of these women that they have never met to say, “We believe you.” Republicans, just as predictably, continue to back Kavanaugh and talk of a vast left-wing conspiracy to smear their candidate.
It should go without saying that with the passage of time, we likely will never know what truly happened between Kavanaugh and his accusers, but ask any party loyalist, and you will find that political certainty has overcome the search for a higher truth.
This affliction has spread throughout the democratic process in America. Trump supporters take every one of his pronouncements to heart, while his opponents believe every policy will destroy the Union. As partisanship runs rampant, no one seems to care about achieving solutions. The long-term future of the United States seems uncertain now that political point scoring and social-media snark outweigh an interest in improving the lives of Americans.
Unfortunately, partisan blindness also is growing more common in Bermuda. One can merely read the comment section of any political article in The Royal Gazette to see people lining up behind their party’s agenda, no matter how hypocritical or illogical those views might be compared to previous party positions.
Just take one recent example: the Government supported ATV rides on the Railway Trail yet rejected beach development at Shelly Bay. Both proposals had merits related to tourist development but raised concerns regarding the quality of life for Bermudians.
Rather than having a rational debate, Progressive Labour Party and One Bermuda Alliance adherents fell in line with each proposal based purely on the Government’s action.
When there is such predictable hypocrisy and allegiance on such small issues, how can we ever expect our island to compromise on thornier problems — such as income inequality, education reform and racial division?
Political parties have their place, of course, but it would serve our collective interests to remember that parties are run by people, and all people are wrong from time to time. Ideological loyalty should never prevent rational thought and the search for truth, no matter what you might hear from party leaders. Because you never know, on some issues, your opponent may be right.
One of Bermuda’s hidden strengths is that it is small and interconnected. People grow up together. It’s good to be kind to those you meet because inevitably your paths will cross again.
It’s time for Bermuda to embrace this closeness to come together. Because if we don’t, we will end up as a shorts-wearing version of the partisan divide engulfing America, rather than a fully functioning and vibrant democracy capable of solving today’s difficult problems.
• Michael Green is a writer and communications consultant based in Smith’s Parish
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