Kavanaugh Confirmation Is Simply GOP Dominance Politics

4 min readSep 26, 2018

The GOP’s decision to “plow forward” with the Brett Kavanaugh nomination is one of the clearest examples of what Josh Marshall has labeled “dominance politics” that has become the core of the modern Republican party. Dominance politics is built on “a series of symbols and actions that mark the dominating from the dominated.” To paraphrase Bill Kristol in a comment he made the other day, conservative politics seems to be less concerned with simply winning on certain issues than it is obsessed with utterly destroying its opponents. Trump is, of course, the epitome of this brand of politics.

Despite the increasing number of allegations of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh and the expanding nature of his lies, maintaining this choirboy image of his youth that is entirely contradicted by the facts and the documentary evidence, such as his yearbook, Republicans are still determined to essentially hold a hearing in the Judiciary Committee and then vote to send his nomination to the floor. Trump, McConnell, and others are denigrating his accusers, accusing them of fabrications or being confused, at the same time they are proclaiming that they want to hear what they say under oath.

McConnell recently told his conservative colleagues at the Values Voters conference that Kavanaugh will be confirmed and yesterday reiterated that he was “confident we’re going to win” and believed “he’ll be confirmed. Both statements at least appear to indicate that he has already pre-judged the outcome of the Thursday hearing and the vote in the Judiciary Committee. The refusal to provide for an independent investigation as well as the refusal to hear from the second Kavanaugh accuser highlights what a sham this hearing really will be, as does bringing in a prosecutor to ask questions for the Republican men on the committee after denying such an investigation.. In addition, when made aware of a credible second allegation against Kavanaugh, the Republicans not only tried to speed up the process but now also refuse to even talk to her lawyer. Finally, the Committee has announced that the vote on moving his confirmation will potentially happen on Friday morning, ensuring that the lies Kavanaugh tells on Thursday will not be thoroughly fact-checked and broadcast before the vote.

The attitude from the Republican party seems to be that we don’t care how many accusers come forward; we don’t care to have a real investigation; we don’t care that most people think he is another sexual predator; we don’t care that a majority of Americans don’t think he should be on the Court; we don’t care that it’s clear Kavanaugh is a serial liar; we are going to ram this nomination through and you can’t stop us. It’s dominance politics at its most extreme.

Kavanaugh himself has taken a similar approach. His protestations of his choirboy youth, always caring about the dignity of women, is simply belied by the multiple denigrating references to women and the references to binge drinking in his high school yearbook, as well as testimony from those who knew then and at Yale. His clear lies about his knowledge of stolen emails from Democratic Judiciary members is yet another example of the facts clearly refuting his version of reality. And his preening about wanting a “fair process” while denying his accusers the right of an independent investigation indicates the dominance politics he plays.

It’s important to remember that Kavanaugh came of age in the early years of dominance politics originally practiced by Newt Gingrich. It’s how he ended up as one of the most ultra-aggressive members of Ken Starr’s real witch-hunt. It’s why he was part of the Brooks Brothers riot that interfered with the legal counting of votes in the Florida recount. It’s why he was apparently a willing conspirator in the torture policy of the Bush administration. Dominance politics is all that he knows. Taking the high road and saying that he might not have been a choirboy in his youth but that he never sexually assaulted these women and, as an adult, tried to provide the dignity and respect women deserve would probably have allowed him to get confirmed with at least moderate public support, But, like Trump, he is incapable of doing that because need for dominance has been ingrained.

Jason Chaffetz is a perfect example of just how toxic this brand of politics has become. Chaffetz spent two years haranguing Hillary Clinton about Benghazi! as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. After the Access Hollywood tape came out, Chaffetz distanced himself from Trump and said he was preparing for “years” of investigating the expected Clinton White House. Chaffetz said Clinton was “ a target-rich environment. Even before we get to Day One, we’ve got two years’ worth of material already lined up. She has four years of history at the State Department, and it ain’t good.”

Of course, when Trump got elected, Chaffetz did nothing to investigate Trump’s ethics violations or Michael Flynn’s apparent treason. Just six month’s into his two year term, Chaffetz abruptly retired and became a Fox News contributor. Chaffetz clearly had no interest in engaging in actual governance. His entire raison d’etre was to destroy Hillary Clinton. When that was no longer an option, he simply took the money and ran. This was dominance politics to the max.

Make no mistake, if Trump and the GOP can ram through the Kavanaugh confirmation, it will only embolden their brand of dominance politics, with the Mueller investigation probably being the next victim. And dominance politics, when practiced by a party with virtually all the political power, largely gained through gerrymandering, voter suppression, and a defective electoral system, very much resembles authoritarianism.

Originally published at tidalsoundings.blogspot.com on September 26, 2018.




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