Democratic Playbook's Only Page: Division
The Democratic Party has long been deeply invested in identity politics. When it wins elections, its victorious coalition is a Frankenstein monster of disparate groups, often with clearly conflicting interests, stitched together with a single emotional thread: a shared sense of victimization at the hands of those that the party’s messaging manages to vilify.
During the Obama administration, the arena of division was race. This was presaged by candidate Obama’s insistence that he could no more disown the radical, fire-breathing Jeremiah Wright than he could his own white grandmother – to whom he elsewhere referred as a “typical white person.” That prestidigitation was so successful that it resulted – in combination with the Republicans’ inexplicable refusal to engage its absurdity – in the election of a president whose acknowledged “spiritual adviser” was infamous for screaming, “God damn America!”
Following that epic mistake, the nation endured a steady diet of racial division promulgated by the president and his acolytes. The Cambridge, Mass., police acted stupidly, and his imaginary son resembled Trayvon Martin. America was a “nation of cowards” regarding racial matters, according to his self-proclaimed “wingman” and attorney general. None of this should have surprised anyone who had read “Dreams From My Father,” a book through which race-based resentment thrums like a beating heart.
As others have noted, the politics of race during Obama’s tenure did not proceed as many might have expected. Part of the reason that November 2008 was magical, in some ways even for his committed political opponents, was that it held promise for real healing of race-related wounds. Like other moments of progress in this area, it seemed a fulfillment of previously empty promises. Our first founding document’s “All men are created equal” became easier to credit when the 13th Amendment to our second founding document abolished the idea that some could own others. Similarly, the promise of a society based on merit, and not identity – in which we are judged by the content of character, and not the color of skin – seemed bolstered by the elevation of a black man to the presidency.
Alas, if Obama himself ever took that to be the case, he did not indicate it outwardly. The tens of millions of white people who voted for him apparently were not evidence of real progress; and the tens of millions who voted against him were routinely assumed to have done so because of his skin color, as all defenses against attacks by those who opposed his agenda eventually got around to asserting.
Why this rehashing of old news? As William Faulkner famously wrote, and as Obama paraphrased in one of his most famous speeches: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
The current moment in American politics is large, consequential, and just another variation on the theme. This time, the arena of division is not race, but gender.
Remember the requirement for the emotional thread cited above: victimization by an identified class of villainy. If the arena is gender, and the requirement is a villain, then clearly the required crime is rape.
Enter Brett Kavanaugh. Never mind that he has had a huge number of successful female clerks, many subsequently requested by sitting Supreme Court justices and none of whom have a bad word to say about him. Ignore the dozens of women who have worked closely with him and characterize him as a gentleman. Do not credit the six extensive background checks already performed on him, which routinely include questions to associates regarding the subject’s alcohol use, and which have produced not a hint of sexual impropriety, or even subtle misogyny. The arena of division is gender. A rapist is required. Brett Kavanaugh is replacing a “swing vote” on the court and is a known conservative.
Seen from this angle, it becomes obvious why the atrocious circus we have all witnessed has come to be. The Democrats are, of necessity, trying to jam the square peg of Kavanaugh into the round hole of rapist.
But because he has lived, for decades, a life filled with so many female friends and colleagues who uniformly praise him, to cast him in that role has required the Way-Back Machine. In a happy coincidence for Democrats, this plan taps into the zeitgeist, as dozens of men – mostly in and around Hollywood, a hotbed of cultural leftism, but don’t bother us with details – have been revealed as sexual predators. In certain quarters, this has created the impression that all men are such creatures; it’s just that some have enjoyed more opportunity.
And now you have a glimpse into why Brett Kavanaugh was angry, and near obviously genuine tears for more than 10 minutes during his testimony – which, by the way, stood in stark contrast to the subdued but often-smiling demeanor of the asserted “victim.” His deserved reputation is destroyed. His accomplished life is in tatters. His home has been vandalized, and his daughter’s prayers mocked. All on the uncorroborated word of one person, who has been caught lying about several things: her fear of flying, her coaching of someone through taking a polygraph, her status as a psychologist, and her stated rationale – “claustrophobia” stemming from her sexual assault -- for adding a second front door to her Palo Alto home, a door that in fact allowed access and egress for tenants.
Brett Kavanaugh ought to be angry and near tears. We all should.