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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 9/29/18

A Tipping Point: Kavanaugh and Trump

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Bob Burnett
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Brett Kavanaugh screen grab from his testimony hearing
Brett Kavanaugh screen grab from his testimony hearing
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20 percent of U.S. women have been raped and another 40 percent have experienced some other form of sexual violence. I mention this because as the Kavanaugh confirmation has veered from his conservative beliefs to his veracity and then to his sexual behavior, the contentious hearing entered territory that was traumatic for many women. For this reason, September 27th represents a tipping point in American politics. A point where U.S. women declared they have had enough abuse.

In retrospect, it's not surprising that Donald Trump, an unrepentant sexual predator, would nominate a Supreme Court Justice from the same mold. At first we thought that Kavanaugh was a clone of Justice Neil Gorsuch, a deeply conservative jurist hand-picked by White House Counsel Don McGahn and a few other archconservatives. (Gorsuch and Kavanaugh knew each other in high school, Georgetown Prep, and both clerked for Supreme Court Justice Kennedy.) It was not until Dr. Christine Blasey Ford came forward that we realized that Kavanaugh suffered from a sinister pathology -- as an (alleged) sexual predator.

Trump and Kavanaugh's decision to dispute Blasey's accusations -- and the accusation of other women -- and push forward with Kavanaugh's nomination, led to the September 27th Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. That all-day hearing triggered traumatic memories for many women who have been the victims of sexual abuse. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2018/09/28/sexual-assault-victims-are-reliving-their-trauma-triggered-by-kavanaugh-hearing/? ) If this weren't bad enough, Kavanaugh and Republican (all male) members of the Senate Judiciary Committee insulted female Democratic Senators Feinstein and Klobuchar.

As a result, the women I know are incensed. They feel that continued Republican support for Kavanaugh's nomination is a another attempt by Republican men to minimize and dismiss the trauma of sexual assault. These women have been reminded that Donald Trump is an unrepentant sexual predator. American women are mad and want to even the score.

Whatever happens to the Kavanaugh nomination -- at this writing it's been postponed pending an FBI inquiry -- it's likely that Republicans will suffer at the ballot box.

Before the Kavanaugh debacle, we knew that a record number of women are running for office in the 2018 mid-term elections (https://edition.cnn.com/2018/09/16/politics/house-women-update-september/index.html ) -- overwhelmingly as Democrats. Furthermore, a June CNN poll found that 58 percent of likely female voters planned to vote for a Democratic candidate in November -- versus 33 percent of women that planned to vote for a Republican candidate and 9 percent who were undecided. (The 25 point gender gap is unprecedented -- and this was before Kavanaugh's hearing.)

Christine Blasey Ford's testimony is a turning point in American politics. It's a moment where American women collectively re-experienced their trauma and decided: "This has gone on long enough. It's time to put an end to sexual violence... It's time for women to take power."

Donald Trump is too dense to understand this. And, for whatever reason, most male Republicans don't get it, either.

There's a blue wave coming. A blue tsunami. Many elements have contributed to this -- one of which is Trump's feckless behavior. But Christine Blasey Ford's testimony was the tipping point.

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Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. In a previous life he was one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems.
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