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The Problem with Democracy

October 10, 2018 (391 words)

We know that a successful democracy requires an informed citizenry, and in order to be informed that citizenry relies on a free press. But it turns out these two well-known and widely acknowledged premises don’t tell the whole story.

What a democracy really needs to function properly is a thoughtful citizenry. Being informed is one thing, knowing how to process the information in an intelligent manner is something else altogether.

In the wake of the just concluded, super-contentious approval process of our newest Supreme Court justice, Brett Kavanaugh, I am struck by just how irresponsible we have been in applying the information disseminated to us in this instance.

For Judge Kavanaugh’s avid supporters to claim he is a victim of a vast left-wing conspiracy is simply beyond the pale. Look, the man was apparently less than gallant toward certain young women when he himself was a young man. He has nobody but himself to blame for the untimely revelation of those unfortunate encounters.

By the same token, when Mr. Kavanaugh’s vociferous critics claim his youthful indiscretions rise to the level of criminal activity, a la Harvey Weinstein, credibility is strained. Young Kavanaugh may have been rude and crude on a few intoxicated occasions, but by all accounts he never crossed the line into assault or rape.

Should someone who acted so impolitely towards young women at parties in high school and college be appointed to the Supreme Court? Would that our judicial nominees not have such blemishes on their personal records, no matter how long ago, and no matter at what young age the offenses are said to have occurred.

We can all agree such activity should not be condoned in any way, shape, or form. At the very least, we should by all means use this recent public embarrassment as a teaching moment for young sons everywhere of how not to behave.

But the hammer-and-tongs way the rabid partisans have chosen to make their case leads me, once again, to despair over the state of our democracy. We seem to specialize in a brand of sound and fury that works against a rational, thoughtful solution to any societal problem. The apparent inability to conduct civil discourse does not bode well for our collective future.

Robert J. Cavanaugh, Jr.
October 10, 2018

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