Hours after the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Judge Kavanaugh as the 114th Supreme Court Justice, a commentator on FOX News remarked that no winners had emerged from the legislative ordeal. He was wrong, of course. Kavanaugh himself was the primary winner, having survived the fury of Hell itself to prevail over the persons and the forces behind them who had tried to destroy him as a jurist, a husband, and a father. President Trump, who had nominated and stuck with him, was the secondary winner, having secured the fervent support of the entire party on whose ticket he was nominated and elected—the first occasion of his nearly two-year presidency on which this had happened. The Republican Party came third, and after it the country. Finally, constitutional law and the law itself were vindicated by Justice Kavanaugh’s seating—after so much hatred, vitriol, and dishonesty had been expended against him—on the Supreme Court.
Whether or not the young female writer for Stephen Colbert’s show meant what she said initially about the pleasure she took from having ruined Brett Kavanaugh’s life forever—she didn’t. Justice Kavanaugh is a strong character with a strong wife and a good Catholic family to support him, now and in future as over the past few weeks. No doubt FOX’s commentator had in mind the irreparable damage to the country that some people claim the recent imbroglio caused. It is far more likely that the dramatic revelation of the present political and social state of the union is a blessing in disguise for the nation. Following the lead of the Washington Post, the left has recently taken for its slogan “democracy dies in darkness.” It is equally true, or more so, to say that learning the truth, however unpleasant, about its dire predicament is essential to the self-preservation of any political system, any society.
This magazine has adverted on several occasions in the past to what a number of its contributors have described as a state of incipient civil war in this country. Chronicles has been alone, or nearly alone, in doing so. L’affaire Kavanaugh has caused the words “war,” even “civil war,” to be voiced in the conservative mainstream media. This is a development of extreme importance. Nor has the phrase been restricted to American journalism. Writing in the Times of London a day or two after Justice Kava naugh was confirmed, Justin Webb, formerly the paper’s man in America, observed that “This American civil war risks destroying the whole system.” He concluded, “Annihilation has replaced cooperation as the new American norm.” This is not opinion; it is fact, pure and simple. And America must acknowledge it as such. “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free”—free to save yourself.
This goes for the Democrats and the liberals as well as for the Republicans and the conservatives. The left, confident that it is on the winning side of history, may not know it, but it has at least as much to lose by political catastrophe as does the right. Yet an increasing portion of it is blissfully unaware of the political damage it has been doing to itself and the Democratic Party since Donald Trump’s election two years ago. The outrageous behavior by congressional democrats and their hysterical supporters in the mob (another word that has so often in modern times been prefaced by “revolutionary” and that was hardly heard in America until September 2016) has encouraged guarded predictions that the GOP will hold the Senate by a wide margin this fall, and that the long-predicted “blue wave” will fail to arrive on the electoral shore as anything more than a ripple. The reactive enthusiasm on the right going into the midterm elections is now as strong as the aggressive-defensive fervor on the left.
Significant victories for the Democrats in either house would demonstrate the failure of the electorate to grasp the extent and meaning of the Democrats’ behavior last summer—and now, when, in the aftermath of the new Justice’s confirmation, top Democrats including Eric Holder are claiming that the Supreme Court is no longer “legitimate.” If the American people have not learned the lesson to be taken from the whole sordid affair, when will they ever learn?