FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why Conservatives (Still) Like Kavanaugh

Senator Collins should be proud of herself. She will now potentially go down in history as the woman who made the overthrow of Roe v. Wade possible — despite her allegedly pro-choice views.

Her name will go down in the annals of self-hating women along with the likes of Phyllis Schlafly and Laura Ingraham. Swing-vote Senators Jeff Flake and Joe Manchin will likely emerge unscathed, given that men are rarely held responsible for contributing to women’s oppression. Kavanaugh’s successful confirmation is case in point.

It may be tempting to fall into dismay, to grow red in the face, to wonder how this could have happened — how could these educated people so brazenly fall for the (bad) acting of Judge Kavanaugh and doubt Dr. Ford, who even Fox News’s Chris Wallace called “extremely credible”? Moreover, how could they ignore retired Justice John Paul Stephen’s argument that Kavanaugh, even if innocent of sexual assault and drunken disorderly conduct, is still unfit to hold the gavel due to the hyper-partisanship he displayed after Dr. Ford’s testimony? These are important questions, but I believe they miss the larger truth.

The truth is that it’s irrelevant whether conservatives believe Dr. Ford: they simply do not care. They don’t care about Ford or any other outsider to their cause. They do not operate based on principles of justice — at least not the same principles of justice that liberals are familiar with. They are not concerned with a careful examination of the evidence when doing so might challenge their worldview. George Lakoff made similar claims several years ago. He explained why liberals fail to win elections, along with the hearts and minds of conservatives. Yet Democrats and liberals continue to operate in a vacuum and continue to lose winnable battles.

As painful as it was for liberals to watch Kavanaugh’s emotional display — complete with nostalgic sobbing, conspiratorial accusations, and awkward, self-righteous anger — conservative viewers likely empathized with him even more. In Arlie Russell Hochschild’s recent book, Strangers in Their Own Land, she demonstrates how conservatives “identify up” with those who are more privileged. They also do not like being told by over-zealous liberals that they should feel something for the little guy (read poor people, immigrants, sexual assault survivors, etc.). Bottom line: conservatives see in Judge Kavanaugh someone they admire while they see in Dr. Ford an obstacle to their own, in this case vicarious, success. Therefore, it is not Orwellian doublespeak to claim that both Ford and Kavanaugh were credible witnesses in the Sept. 28 Senate hearing; nor is it cause to dredge up dubious theories of mistaken identity. Both witnesses can be credible at the same time but in different ways: Ford is credible due to her temperament, professionalism, and consistency while Kavanaugh is credible due to his success and his loyalty to conservative causes. Oh, and it also helps that he’s a white man.

If there is one major takeaway for liberals — other than to keep fighting and avoid despair — it is increased awareness of how conservatives view this unprecedented fight for a Supreme Court majority. For the Left, it’s about what is just. It’s about empowering the disempowered, and, in the same vein, it’s about placing checks on power and privilege. For the Right, it’s about tribal loyalty. It’s about winning. Kavanaugh may not be perfect, but he’s their guy. They must protect him from those who would impede his progress, and, by extension, their own progress and that of their families and communities — as they see it. Justice for those outside their allegiances is not a compelling enough reason to be disloyal.

Susan Collins is a Republican who answers to her conservative base. This, to me, best explains her vote. History will be the ultimate judge.

More articles by:

Weekend Edition
February 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Matthew Hoh
Time for Peace in Afghanistan and an End to the Lies
Chris Floyd
Pence and the Benjamins: An Eternity of Anti-Semitism
Rob Urie
The Green New Deal, Capitalism and the State
Jim Kavanagh
The Siege of Venezuela and the Travails of Empire
Paul Street
Someone Needs to Teach These As$#oles a Lesson
Andrew Levine
World Historical Donald: Unwitting and Unwilling Author of The Green New Deal
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Third Rail-Roaded
Eric Draitser
Impacts of Exploding US Oil Production on Climate and Foreign Policy
Ron Jacobs
Maduro, Guaidó and American Exceptionalism
John Laforge
Nuclear Power Can’t Survive, Much Less Slow Climate Disruption
Joyce Nelson
Venezuela & The Mighty Wurlitzer
Jonathan Cook
In Hebron, Israel Removes the Last Restraint on Its Settlers’ Reign of Terror
Ramzy Baroud
Enough Western Meddling and Interventions: Let the Venezuelan People Decide
Robert Fantina
Congress, Israel and the Politics of “Righteous Indignation”
Dave Lindorff
Using Students, Teachers, Journalists and other Professionals as Spies Puts Everyone in Jeopardy
Kathy Kelly
What it Really Takes to Secure Peace in Afghanistan
Brian Cloughley
In Libya, “We Came, We Saw, He Died.” Now, Maduro?
Nicky Reid
The Councils Before Maduro!
Gary Leupp
“It’s All About the Benjamins, Baby”
Jon Rynn
What a Green New Deal Should Look Like: Filling in the Details
David Swanson
Will the U.S. Senate Let the People of Yemen Live?
Dana E. Abizaid
On Candace Owens’s Praise of Hitler
Raouf Halaby
‘Tiz Kosher for Elected Jewish U.S. Officials to Malign
Rev. William Alberts
Trump’s Deceitful God-Talk at the Annual National Prayer Breakfast
W. T. Whitney
Caribbean Crosswinds: Revolutionary Turmoil and Social Change 
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Avoiding Authoritarian Socialism
Howard Lisnoff
Anti-Semitism, Racism, and Anti-immigrant Hate
Ralph Nader
The Realized Temptations of NPR and PBS
Cindy Garcia
Trump Pledged to Protect Families, Then He Deported My Husband
Thomas Knapp
Judicial Secrecy: Where Justice Goes to Die
Louis Proyect
The Revolutionary Films of Raymundo Gleyzer
Sarah Anderson
If You Hate Campaign Season, Blame Money in Politics
Victor Grossman
Contrary Creatures
Tamara Pearson
Children Battling Unhealthy Body Images Need a Different Narrative About Beauty
Peter Knutson
The Salmon Wars in the Pacific Northwest: Banning the Rough Customer
Binoy Kampmark
Means of Control: Russia’s Attempt to Hive Off the Internet
Robert Koehler
The Music That’s in All of Us
Norah Vawter
The Kids Might Save Us
Tracey L. Rogers
Freedom for All Begins With Freedom for the Most Marginalized
Paul Armentano
Marijuana Can Help Fight Opioid Abuse
Tom Clifford
Britain’s Return to the South China Sea
Graham Peebles
Young People Lead the Charge to Change the World
Matthew Stevenson
A Pacific Odyssey: Around General MacArthur’s Manila Stage Set
B. R. Gowani
Starbucks Guy Comes Out to Preserve Billionaire Species
David Yearsley
Bogart Weather
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail