The Supreme Court Vote Was About Symbolism

Symbolism, The Supreme Court

In a recent opinion piece in the New York Times, <https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/05/opinion/brett-kavanaugh-senate-susan-collins.html> columnist Gail Collins cut through the quagmire of guilt versus innocence and words versus evidence to promote the idea that the confirmation was about the nation’s culture and not about the actions or inactions of a single man.

Now officially confirmed, Justice Kavanaugh is a symbol of triumph for that culture. But it did not come without a fight. The culture Collins refers to is the “boys will be boys” culture. Her take is not just about the idea that immature behavior on the part of some males has been excused by the dominant culture of the United States, rather her take is that it is manhood itself that seems threatened. Her prime example is red state Democrat Joe Manchin. She noted that in his campaign ads he is regularly filmed shooting at legislation with which he does not agree. This kind of male imagery is, it seems, important to him. Believing a woman who speaks about a sexual assault would be an act of disloyalty to his gender. This is the culture. The act of male dominance being supported by men lest they lose their status among other men.

Collins commends, in a way, the speech given by Senator Susan Collins of Maine. She states that Collins took her time to deliberately clarify and explain her yes vote for Kavanaugh. In this sense, the senator from Maine understood the importance of the moment. Collins the columnist would liked to have seen a similar response from the president. However, the president, like Manchin, neglected to look deeper into the issue. They neglected to take in the broader meaning of the moment and instead doubled down on the status quo.

Senator Murkowski of Alaska understood the moment. Collins writes that Murkowski, who did not vote at all, understood the political risks. She also understood that going through the motions and supporting the party line would be inappropriate. As Senator Murkowski herself stated, “We’re dealing with issues right now that are bigger than this nominee.”

Senators Collins, Murkowski and others listened to the claims against Kavanaugh and determined whether or not those claims were worthy of dismissing his nomination. Gail Collins concludes that the confirmation isn’t so much about Kavanaugh then it is about whether victim’s voices are taken seriously. The confirmation is a sign that they are not

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