Weigel: Partisanship plagues the American political process

There was a time when politicians stood for something and did what they thought was correct in their heart. Sadly, the Kavanaugh fiasco serves as evidence that our politicians only stand for their party today.



Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is sworn in by chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018, during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, focusing on allegations of sexual assault by Kavanaugh against Christine Blasey Ford in the early 1980s. (Tom Williams/Pool/CQ Roll Call/Abaca Press/TNS)

Zach Weigel, Opinion Columnist

I have to admit, I was utterly surprised the Senate approved Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. And no it’s not because I’m some liberal who is simply worried that Kavanaugh will likely swing the court in a conservative direction.

In fact, I couldn’t care less about that. The man whom Kavanaugh replaces, Anthony Kennedy, decided to retire, and that means that the president gets to appoint a replacement to the Supreme Court. Per the Constitution, that’s the way it goes. What surprised me is that America’s politicians have seemingly decided that partisanship is more important than doing what is morally right.

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Maybe I should have seen it coming. After all, in 2016, the Republican-controlled Senate refused to vote on Obama Supreme Court appointee Merrick Garland because they thought the incoming president should decide instead of a lame-duck president. Garland should have received a vote by the Senate, but the Republicans in the Senate chose to play politics over doing their job.

Therefore, I shouldn’t have been as devastated as I was when Kavanaugh was approved because the writing was already on the wall.

Right now, American politics is a game and not just any game. Politics has become a zero-sum game in which one side wins and the other side loses, as evident by the proceedings of Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Only one — one out of 51 Republican senators, chose to vote no for Kavanaugh — showing that voting party-line matters more than voting with a conscience.

I held out hope that retiring Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake would vote no on Kavanaugh during the committee hearings. Flake, who many forecast as a potential 2020 presidential candidate, wrote a book last year called Conscience of a Conservative in which he lambastes the Republican Party for prioritizing zero-sum tactics that obscure conservative principles.

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Nonetheless, in the end, Flake joined 48 other Republican senators in voting yes for a man accused of sexually assaulting a woman during his high-school years. They voted yes for a man who painted himself as loose-cannon partier during Senate hearings. They voted yes for a man who head-scratchingly suggested that the investigation into his alleged sexual assault was a liberal smear campaign. This was after documents established that Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, came forward with her allegations shortly after Kavanaugh’s name surfaced on the shortlist of candidates under consideration by President Trump.

But it’s not just Republicans who forgot (or rather deliberately chose not) to use their conscience. Although all but one Democrat voted against Kavanaugh, the Democrats sat on Ford’s allegations, waiting for the Kavanaugh proceedings to play out so they might be able to score political points by voting down Kavanaugh, in effect deal Trump and Republicans a blow. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who first learned of the sexual-assault allegations against Kavanaugh, should have immediately alerted Trump. With this knowledge, Trump could have and likely would have nominated somebody else without a checkered past.

Ergo, through it all, both parties have shown that scoring partisan political points is all that matters. Politicians such as former Sen. John McCain simply don’t exist anymore. Our politicians have partisan-motivated reasoning that blinds them from seeing that there are more important things than scoring political points for their side. It’s clear that partisanship is plaguing the American political process. There was a time when politicians stood for something and did what they thought was correct in their hearts. Sadly, the Kavanaugh fiasco serves as evidence that our politicians only stand for their party today.

Regardless of what party you’re akin to, this is despicable. It’s politics at its worst, and America should be ashamed of itself.