Kavanaugh and the Good Men

Supreme Court justices are so hot right now. Everyone’s talking about them. I don’t really feel like talking about it because everyone else is, and I don’t want to be mainstream, man.

But then, I’ve seen people asking where the Good Men are. Why aren’t they speaking up? I try to be one of the “good mens”. What does that even mean? How is it defined? Can I define myself that way? I think Kavanaugh would define himself as a good man, says he didn’t do these things, and he certainly has a crowd of people, of both genders, that appear to support his claims of being a good man. We also have very credible voices saying the kind of man who has committed these things is not a good man, and that he absolutely did these things.

If he believes himself to be a good man, and his community believes he is a good man, why would they believe claims from the outside that he is a bad man? Especially if he’s on the side of the group that currently holds power — voluntarily giving up control or power for the sake of someone/thing else is, apparently, an incredibly rare trait. But one we might hope for for those representing us on the United States Supreme Court, right? Maybe? The sort of people running the show right now are the sort of people who have shown they’re not planning on giving up power, nor particularly interested in what anyone else thinks.

I suppose the only way is to handle this is to look closely at the situation, both parties involved, practice some compassionate loving-kindess meditation to be filled with love and understanding for someone different than us, and have a human and reasonable discussion about it in order to find practical solutions that are best for our country and the humans in it. Oh wait, I forgot this was America, baby. Let’s fight instead.

I hear the voices from those who oppose Kavanaugh, lamenting the silent voice of the mythical Good Man, just as some lament the voices of the Good Cop, the Good Politician, the Good Serial Killer.

Am I the Good Man? Is he? Is anyone? I’ve never done what he did. If I was drunk and thought a woman was really attractive, would I? I probably wouldn’t have done it then, either. Maybe cause I’m a nerd and terrible with women, and if I had the confidence, then I’d make that creepy move. Or, maybe nerds are better men then jocks! and maybe we can make that the next war.

Maybe he’s lying. Maybe he doesn’t remember. Maybe he didn’t even do it. Do you think any of that matters to those who believe that now, he is a good man? That who among us has not drunkenly covered a woman’s mouth as he tried to make the moves on her while laughing with his friends? (I haven’t done that myself, but my wife did grab me aggressively from behind yesterday, put her hand over my mouth, and yell “YOU’VE BEEN KAVANAUGH’D”.

Listen, I don’t know. I believe in forgiveness and change. I believe people do mature and grow. Or at least, that they can. Could someone who performed those acts as a teenager now be someone who could reasonably sit on the Supreme Court? I can picture several worlds in which I could see that happening.

I watched a woman give, what seemed to me, to be a heartfelt and intense description of what happened. I felt walked through her experience in way that made it feel real even to me. I’m a terrible judge of character, so much so that I don’t even feel comfortable saying if I believe her. I’ll believe any good actor. It felt true to me, with the details also lining up with reality as I understand it. My ability to say what part of reality I feel I truly understand these days is shrinking.

I also know that people with great social radars believe she is honest. I watched my wife, who has dealt with her own past trauma, resonate with the emotions and thoughts presented. I have absolutely zero reason to believe anything was falsified, and nothing feels like it was falsified. Some of the facts may indeed be off or forgotten, because that’s how our minds work, but this is a story that represents what many woman have dealt with, playing out on one of the biggest national and international stages ever. I’m glad Ford’s testimony is preserved for as long as we have Internets, because it’s a story that should be taken out of context of the current Supreme Court battle and enshrined as a symbol for the greater movement of nth wave feminism — and I hope this is the wave of feminism that can achieve balance with, man-ism, or whatever that balancing force is named.

She answers questions openly and honestly. She apologizes for what she doesn’t know. She seems to cooperate and be open. She is told that she is brave and strong for speaking up.

Even Trump, the world leader in denying and creating his own truth, seems unable to say that Christine Ford’s testimony is not credible.

The two realities I could see with her testimony is that it is true, or that this is a conspiracy against the Republican party and she is an incredible actress with an unbelievable supporting team. Perhaps, as Republicans say, this may have indeed happened to her, which is why she can speak about it so honestly, but that it was not an act that was committed by the man in question. And, honestly, in the current political climate, do you trust anyone to not pull some political tricks? This beats House of Cards any day.

I watched a Supreme Court justice nominee give, what seemed to me, a heartfelt and intense description of his feelings about the situation’s toll on his family. I see a man who, within his moral system and culture, believes he is a good man, being supported by what he sees as other good men. I saw him get angry that his good name was being dragged through the mud.

Side note: What is a good name worth, anyway? I don’t know people who are good people who feel such anger when they have to defend their own goodness. However, this is the way I believe and think. Who can say this man doesn’t have a reason to value his good name? I’ve done shitty things — if the things you do drag your name through the mud, you probably deserve it — but people care less about your own good name than you think.

I’m confused by his calendars as evidence. There are a billion reasons why he would have not captured this particular get together on his calendar. Then, talking about his calendars make him tear up for his father for some reason. Family ties are a thing that certainly can be deeply emotionally moving, but I’m not sure how it’s relevant to what’s happening.

When he thinks of what this woman has done to him, he becomes angry. He demonstrates that anger, vocally. His back is patted by other men, apologizing that he needs to go through this. I am confused why there is much less anger displayed by the victim’s side than the accused’s side in this part of the process. I see enraged senators, so angry that one of their own is having to deal with this. I wonder how disconnected they must be from their constituents if they honestly believe that this is such a terrible thing to happen to someone. A false accusation that may prevent him from moving to the position he feels he now is entitled to — the Supreme Court — this problem is even more first-world than my problems. But again, this is his world, and he has the right to feel so affronted by whatever he chooses.

I understand that as a lawyer, he thinks in patterns where proper rhetoric and evidence presented in a certain way with certain contents is important. It seems his case is laid out like a lawyer, not like a human. I fear when folks seem to not care about other people’s humanity. It seems Ford is speaking to people. Kavanaugh is speaking to lawyers and politicians.

He seems hostile to questions. He throws questions back in the face of those who ask. The people asking him questions did not wrong him. Why is he being angry, sullen, and uncooperative? Supposing this is a left wing conspiracy, I understand being upset. If you are preparing to be on the Supreme Court, I hope you will be able to maintain composure in many difficult situations. He does not seem to be particularly composed.

And then…did he really blame this on that left wing conspiracy? Does this seem like the behavior and thought process of someone who is supposed to be an impartial judge?

In the end, I must admit that I cannot know whether Kavanaugh or Ford should be believed. I must accept I may never know. But I think we have enough information about how Kavanaugh conducts himself to know he should not be on the Supreme Court. I also believe that those who are able to vote him into the court are of the same mind as him, and it’s likely he will be confirmed.

However, this is simply my attempt at a calm look at this issue. There’s a bigger issue.

The game of politics itself. The deeper narrative of the relationship between men, women, power, and leadership. Good Men. There’s also Good Women, and Toxic Femininity, but we can fight about that another day.

The kind of person who wants the Good Men to speak up is the kind of person who thinks Kavanaugh and the current crop of politicians is, overall, not the kind of people they want running they country.

And, frankly, I think many people agree. I know I do.

The Good Men are not running the country. They are not the ones pulling the strings, or the ones manipulating people for their own gain. They tend to be, like most people — just people. We don’t have much extra voice or power. Our voice can join with your voice, and that we are glad to do.

We’re trying to be good humans and boyfriends. Good husbands and partners and dads and citizens. Concerned for the environment and country and world. We’re in the movement just like you, and don’t really wield particular power. What power we do have — gained from privilege, work, luck, whatever — we do try to use for good. Even for the ones who might get upset that many people use gendered terms and are not yet woke enough for that step.

The best thing I find myself able to do is treat my wife with respect and raise my daughters to be strong, well rounded human beings. The generation in power, is, frankly, not going to change. But they will die over time, new politicians will be elected, the youth will grow and the values they have will change and shape the country. I’m not suggesting to stop pushing the country in directions you believe — really, I hope we can find encouragement in knowing that the children are our future. Teach them well, and let them lead the way. I just made that up.

Can we trust that the young people will be able to lead the way? That the power will naturally shift as it should? Do we see any examples of countries that began to be more equal for all, then suddenly fundamentalist religious ideals won out? How did that work out for those countries? How did it work out for women in those countries?

Groups in power do not simply hand over power. In America, we have systems in place to allow the people control over the government, so we don’t need to worry about groups in power becoming entrenched. That’s why we can trust that the system will evolve and grow to match the needs of a progressing world. We can trust that, right?

In America, that system was used to elect Trump. Whether or not he espouses your values, do you think he’s the best America has to offer? Is he the answer to America’s real needs in 2016–2020?

Now we’re left to wonder about what that means, and what direction the country is taking. Are we becoming facists? Literal Nazis? A reality TV show? Is America becoming great again, or rotten through to the core? Our economy is booming and black unemployment is at an all time low, and I’m having a hard time getting a reading on the level of the swamp…

And then I wonder — what can we do about this confusion and these changes in direction, anyway? Even if we recognize the truth. Can we do anything practical? Sometimes I can’t think of any real solutions, actionable things that I can do, to solve some of these problems. I wonder if those solutions even exist. The system is funded by people with very deep pockets. The government is not being bought — it is bought. People are viewed as currency by jails. Replaceable cogs in corporate machines. Those corporations are sponsoring a massive, devastating drug crisis. The government is doing little to solve the problem apart from ways that bring in more cash by increasing the amount of human currency within the system. What can the people do? Turns out the only people that seem to be able to accomplish anything and growing fat and wealthy are the corporate people. Corporations are people, right?

Sorry to end on dark note.

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