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The Conservative Fear of Norming

“Throughout history, government has proven to be the chief instrument for thwarting man’s liberty.  Government represents power in the hands of some men to control the and regulate the lives of other men.”

– Barry Goldwater, Conscience of a Conservative

Conservatives exhibit a strange obsession with a “timeless” Constitution.  1787 is that only context that matters.  Original intent of the framers is the only interpretation.  To them, the words of the Constitution came from God.

In particular, they praise the founding fathers’ establishment of a limited government with a specific set of individual rights.  This is why they fear “norms,” or “norming.”  The conservative outrage towards the accusations of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh’s stem from this fear.  Not only do these accusations threaten the Right’s sanctity of the confirmation process, they threaten a class of men with the power to evade the consequences.  This elite political class is frightened by the prospect that the consequences for sexual assault and harassment with prevent them from public office.  Their right to an unrestrained private life, which includes sexually assaulting women and owning dozens of firearms, is a crucial part of the conservative maintenance of hierarchy.

John Bolton, Trump’s National Security Advisor, exemplifies this class of men that believes in the fairy tale of meritocracy. Like Kavanaugh, Bolton attended private schools in Maryland and Yale School of Law.  In his autobiography, Surrender is Not an Option, Bolton writes:

This was the way leftist groups such as Greenpeace and Human Rights Watch had successfully worked to isolate the United States on the Kyoto Protocol, the Rome Statute, and the Ottawa Landmines Convention, and they used it with increasing frequency on domestic policy issues like “right of the child,” the death penalty, and now gun control.  This approach, often called “norming,” meaning, in a neutral sense, creating international norms of behavior, could be helpful, especially if it meant raising standards in intolerable regimes.  What it increasingly came to mean, however, was whipping the United States into line with leftist views of the way the world should look.

Bolton admits that the overarching vision of conservative politics bridges foreign policy and domestic policy.  Maintaining dominance over foreign countries abroad and over women at home is one in the same.

The preservation of hierarchy on every front is the driving force of the right.  Leftists are right to use Kavanaugh’s confirmation process as a way to normalize accountability for sexual assault.  These are heinous acts, often connected to the exercise a certain class power, should prevent anyone from serving in office.  While his positions on abortion, birth control, unions, and the expansion of executive powers are equally horrifying, fighting for this norm is a chance to strike a blow against the “meritocratic” class that preys on women with impunity.

John Forte is a high school social studies teacher, a union activist, and a member of DSA in New Jersey.  He can be reached at joforte9@gmail.com.

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