“Saturday Night Live’s” Brett Kavanaugh cold open was the final straw. I’d been seriously mulling it over for more than a week before I made a few clicks on the Colorado secretary of state’s website to end my two-year hiatus from the GOP.
I was happy in my self-imposed exile. Like other Never Trumpers, during the last election I needed to put some distance between me and the GOP candidate. I’d been with the GOP for the better part of a quarter-century. I’d come to believe that my party cared more about virtue and character than the Democratic Party did. That was the lesson I’d taken from President Bill Clinton’s presidency.
So when Donald Trump won the nomination, I felt I’d been deceived. I learned that power matters most to most people most of the time, party affiliation notwithstanding.
So why did the Kavanaugh confirmation battle lead me back to the GOP? I wasn’t planning on returning anytime soon. Being outside of a major party gave me the freedom to criticize both camps. I could champion principles and ideas rather than the party line.
I didn’t have to try and justify despicable comments about “sh-thole” countries, attacks on the press, or the growing federal deficit. I could even like a capable, moderate Democrat on occasion, like Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, without feeling like I was cheating on my dance partner.
Something about the Kavanaugh circus these past two weeks, however, made me reconsider staying on the sidelines. The new low in political gamesmanship disturbed me. Don’t like a nominee’s jurisprudence? Leak an allegation prior to the vote. Demand the accuser’s sex be taken more seriously than the evidence. Tell a woman who shows emotion she is brave, but accuse a man who shows emotion of lacking judgement.
Consider the accused guilty until proven innocent. Judge a sober, middle-aged adult by his teen beer consumption. Insist on an FBI investigation then dismiss its findings because they don’t support the narrative. Demand that the opinion of enraged activists and Hollywood actors count more than weeks of hearings. Mob the capitol. Make Kavanaugh atone for every sexual assault that has gone unpunished. Consider revenge an acceptable substitute for justice whose recipient need not be guilty, just available.
Something about that ever-changing narrative made me suspicious of other motives. An allegation of teen sexual assault from 36 years ago quickly morphed into something worse. A liberal friend asked me how I could support a rapist who had tried to choke his victim. Huh?
Then Kavanaugh was accused of orchestrating rape parties in high school and being a pervert in college. When no evidence could be found to substantiate Christine Blasey Ford’s claim and no one took the pathetic second or third allegations seriously, the story changed again. Kavanagh was portrayed as an unhinged adult unwilling to admit his teen drinking problem. In the end, the only allegation that stuck was that Kavanaugh threw ice at someone 30-plus years ago. All of this for airborne ice? Or could it be they just don’t like his jurisprudence?
The changing narrative, the double standards, and the unethical gamesmanship by one group motivated me to rejoin the other. I’m no longer naïve; neither party has a monopoly on virtue or vice. People are people. The decent and the corrupt belong to both camps.
Parties are imperfect vehicles for advancing ideas and policies. Perhaps one can influence the direction of a party better from the inside than from without. Who knows? In the meanwhile, I had to push back against an injustice by being part of something bigger than myself.