12 October 2018

Note From Norm: Democracy Isn’t Dead Yet

Judge Brett Kavanaugh is now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

It wasn’t easy.  It wasn’t pretty.  It wasn’t dignified.

Democracy isn’t pretty.  It never has been.

We’ve been told, time and time again, that America’s democracy is on the ropes and falling apart.

That most of the wringing of hands of this demise of our nation exists on left-leaning news programs and right-wing pundits is not surprising.

Nor is it surprising that Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the nation’s highest court has analysts on both the left and the right proclaiming the end of bipartisanship – or more dire, the end of a functional government.

Yet, as ugly and brutal as the process was that ultimately led to the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh, it’s also a reminder democracy may not be perfect, but it’s still a better form of government than anything else that has been invented.

I don’t believe the end of democracy is at hand.

I also don’t believe that the Kavanaugh nomination and the subsequent brutality that enveloped him, Dr. Ford and exposed the best and the worst of the United States Senate, is anything other than another reminder that as bad as it may have been it is better than anything else anywhere in the world.

We’ve lived through the assassinations of Presidents.

We’ve managed to survive the resignation of a President.

Through wars, Depression, Civil War and a myriad of other conflicts we have emerged stronger as a country.

Our demise has been predicted time and time again.

Nobody expected America to survive much after our war of independence.

The Civil War should have destroyed our young nation.

The likelihood of America enduring very long was just too much to believe.

Yet, we have.

We will live through the Kavanaugh Chapter of America, as well.

I don’t approve of the tactics that Democrats used to demonize Brett Kavanaugh.   Nor do I find everything said by those on the Republican side of the aisle to be worthy of praise.

Democrats who stood against the Kavanaugh nomination, with barely concealed goals of destroying him to satisfy their political base will not withstand the judgment  of time.

In the final analysis, basic notions of presumption of innocence, and due process  prevailed over a dystopian presumption of guilt. Future nominees, both Democrat and Republican, will be thankful of that outcome.

It is the nature of a nation in which there is a free press, a government of the people and for the people, and one in which our differences are not settled at the end of the barrel of a gun, that makes us stronger despite our differences.

I remember America that seemed to be coming apart at it seams during the Vietnam War.  As a young man I joined young men and women throughout the country in voicing our opposition to a war, but also to our political leaders.

We drove those leaders out of office.  We ultimately helped end a war.

Our goal was not to bring down our government.

It was to put an end to policies that we believed were not the best of what America was meant to represent to the world.

Those who have opposed Judge Kavanaugh and those who oppose the President who nominated him, I do not believe seek to destroy America or bring down our government.

I may disagree with their tactics. I may oppose the means they have used to advance their cause and their goals, but I do not believe them to be any less patriots than those who disagree with them.

There were patriots in this process that has caused so much bitterness in America.

Patriots like Dr. Ford, Judge Kavanaugh, and those who supported both of them with passion and compassion.

There were some members of the United States Senate who reminded us why we are a nation of laws and one in which the unruly nature of democracy is vital to who we are as a country.

Senators like Lindsey Graham who did not back down from defending Dr. Ford or Judge Kavanaugh and called out the actions of Democrats on the Judiciary Committee who seemed intent on destroying the reputation of one person while destroying the dignity of another.

Others like Senator Susan Collins who has withstood withering criticism for her candor, integrity and commitment to justice for Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh.  Susan Collins may be one of the most integrate political leaders of our time.  I was proud to serve with her in the Senate and I am proud to call her my friend.

And, Senator Lisa Murkowski who made it clear she would not support the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh yet, when comity demanded it, did not let her personal convictions prevent a fellow colleague from being able to celebrate the marriage of his daughter.   By expressing her opposition yet being willing to simply vote “Not Present” she offered grace and healing to the United States Senate.

Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, chose to break from his party and support the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

It will take time before the bitterness of Kavanaugh hearings dissipates.

It will not happen between now and the mid-term elections which are now less than a month away.

But, I deeply believe that as painful as this process has been for America it is another reminder of our nation’s resilience.

It is also a reminder that democracy prevails despite wars, terrorist attacks, impeachment, depressions, recessions and conflicts between Americans.

In a quote often attributed to Winston Churchill, it has been said that “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others.”

I will gladly accept the worst form of government because it has created the best nation in the world.