Guest editorial: Statehouse candidate says partisanship has damaged our democracy
October 3, 2018
"One recognises that the partisan spirit makes people blind, makes them deaf to justice, pushes even decent men cruelly to persecute innocent targets. One recognises it, and yet nobody suggests getting rid of the organisations that generate such evils." ― Simone Weil, "On the Abolition of All Political Parties"
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." — Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence
I watched the Kavanaugh hearings and the vastly different commentaries offered up afterwards. I know that we would not be in this situation if the nomination of a Supreme Court member had not become a partisan power grab. We would not be in this position if there wasn't a rush to a finish line before November. We would not be in this position if the management of nominees was a serious and thoughtful process, a respected duty of the Senate. Instead it was a power play for short term gain.
Our Senators put on quite a performance in the hearings. They showed a dramatic change in their physical presence, tone, willingness to follow protocol, and basic decorum from the questioning of Dr. Ford to that of Mr. Kavanaugh. That change was quite revealing. It showed that the intent was not to pursue an ideal process. Yet our Senate, indeed the functioning of our government, relies upon process based on ideals. We need our government to seek what is true and just and good. We should hold forth certain truths, not make our pitch based on partisan goals of a political party.
While I don't advocate Simone Weil's answer to the problem of partisanship, I do see truth in her argument: when we choose yes or no, mine or yours, agree or disagree, we stop thinking. We stop analyzing, reflecting, seeking the greater truth and the greater good. We stop using our American ideals to guide our decision making and policy.
There isn't a clear solution to the problem presented by the Kavanaugh hearing and our divided country. But you do advocate for your solution with a vote in November. You choose what solution you offer by participating more and not less in our democracy. You choose the direction that we take after this by deciding whether you think assault and unwanted sexual behavior by men is normal and welcome or abnormal and unwelcome. We also have to decide whether evidence of this behavior should be part of our Judicial nominees' examination. We have to decide how to prevent the events of last week from happening again with the next nominee to the Supreme Court.
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Specifically here in Utah, how can you promote bipartisanship or even nonpartisan thoughtfulness? You can research candidates regardless of their party affiliation. You can vote. You should vote. You can have a high standard for your representatives in professional and personal conduct. You can demand an informed and thoughtful representative. After the election, you can continue to participate in our democracy. Volunteer. Join a civic organization.
Attend a city or county council meeting. Run for office. When you speak to all in the public space and act in the community, you are part of our government and we move towards a more perfect Union.
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