Kavanaugh, Rules for Radicals, and the Politicalization of the Supreme Court
By Katherine Fry, CEO/President of Mediafy Communications
In the UK, the Queen does not answer to anyone in the government. Her Queenship is not dependant upon pandering to special interest groups or negotiating with members of political parties. She is anointed by God-not appointed by the people. Therefore, she is answerable only to God, and not to the people. One of the weaknesses in the United States’ political system is that a great part of its existence revolves around favors, personal agreements, and sometimes payoffs. A beacon of light within all of this potential chaos is the Supreme Court of the United States. Once appointed by the president, and confirmed by the Senate and Congress, Supreme Court members, like the Queen, are answerable only to God and their conscience. Their vote cannot be bought and they do not have to answer to anyone-they are on the court for life. However, this makes the process of confirming a candidate all the detrimental, since it is like entering into a marriage where divorce is not an option. You have to make sure the correct choice is made at the onset.
Brett Kavanaugh, on paper, looks like an ideal candidate. A cum laude graduate of Yale Law School, he has had a stellar career in the United States Judicial System. However, because of the partisan nature of the American Political System, he is a declared Republican. Removing politics from the equation, he has, for all accounts, turned to legal precedent and the constitution when deciding legal cases. He has also stated that he considers the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade to be the settled law of the land.
Women in the United States have fought hard to establish their rights to vote, to own property, to have their income counted when applying for a loan, to have access to birth control, and to have reproductive rights. For some, this is a crusade, because they are afraid of the loss of these rights. For others, these rights are now simply part of their daily lives. Brett Kavanaugh, because he is a Republican, and arguably a conservative, represents a threat to many women who fear the loss of the reproductive freedoms women in the United States currently enjoy. In a confidential 2003 email, Kavanaugh states that he isn’t sure all legal scholars would agree that Roe v. Wade is the “settled law of the land,” and argues that the Supreme Court can “always overrule its precedent.” Contention regarding Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings began shortly after a former lawyer of George W. Bush turned over the email to the Senate Judiciary committee.
This is a pivotal time on the Supreme Court’s history, with four conservatives on the Supreme Court out of the total of nine. Another conservative on the court could potentially upset the balance, and lead to the possible appeal of Roe V. Wade. Kavanaugh’s confirmation, then, presents a problem.
Having been raised by a feminist woman of the 60’s, I do not take our rights for granted. I have been sexually harassed, and I have faced discrimination in the workplace. I am thankful to have the “right to choose.” I know the struggle for gender equality is real and ongoing and I identify as a feminist. However, when I see the accusations being leveled against Kavanaugh, it takes me back to a book I read in college called “Rules for Radicals,” written by Saul Alinsky. What is happening to Brett Kavanaugh is literally a play by play of what this book advocates.
Alinsky’s First Rule Is:
“Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.”
If Kavanaugh is the enemy, then, according to Alinsky, we must scare him into thinking we have “information on him.” We must bring forward women he may or may not have known, and have them give testimony, real or imagined. Make him worry that more may appear. This may cause him to withdraw, to prevent any further damage to his reputation and career. Whether these women are telling the truth or not becomes irrelevant. The goal is to get him to step aside.
Rule Number Two Is:
“Never go outside the expertise of your people.”
An argument based upon the balance of the Supreme Court and its eventual repercussions regarding reproductive rights in America is arguably over the heads of many people, and a divisive one at that. Keeping the argument simple and dramatic is far more effective. Women coming forward and claiming molestation and potential rape is an offense to anyone, on the right or on the left. It garners popular support and gets you closer to the goal-having Kavanaugh step aside or not garnering enough bipartisan votes to be confirmed.
Rule Number Three:
“Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.”
If Kavanaugh is innocent of the charges levied against him, then he has no experience in the area of molestation or rape. He is a conservative Republican, married with children. He works every day and then goes home to his family. Having accusations levied against him such as these is completely foreign to him. Most likely, Kavanaugh was blindsided. As a result, his reactions are angry and emotional. This matter, and how to react to it, are “outside his airspace.” An emotional response to the accusations strengthens the enemy’s argument that he is dangerous and untrustworthy.
“Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”
Go back through Kavanaugh’s emails over the past 20 years and find something that does not agree with what he is saying now. Find old girlfriends who claim he misbehaved, creating a conflict with who he is now. bring into question the enemy’s credibility and reputation, creating more and more damage until all trust is gone.
“Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”
There is no doubt that Kavanaugh is facing ridicule. For what he is being accused of, there is no defense. Bringing up women from years ago when Kavanaugh was a minor, is arguably irrational but it is also infuriating. More importantly, it can also force the enemy into conceding. That is the goal with Kavanaugh. If the ridicule leads to him bowing out, then the “means was worth the end.”
“A good tactic is one your people enjoy.”
Radical activists love nothing more than taking down a conservative Republican. Everyone avoids activities that are “un-fun”, but we all enjoy activities that bring results and actually work. Kavanaugh represents the stereotypical, privileged, conservative, pro-life male with a wife at home. What’s more entertaining than destroying him completely?
“A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.”
The accusations against Kavanaugh and resulting testimony are quick and dirty. This whole thing might be over tomorrow. Moments like this keep activists excited, involved and constantly coming up with new tactics. It is a radical liberal’s dream come true because there’s almost instant satisfaction.
“Keep the pressure on. Never give up.”
Continue introducing new tactics to constantly keep the enemy off kilter. When the enemy addresses and conquers one approach, hit with another. Keep attacking from all sides, never allowing the enemy to rest, recoup, recover, or re-strategize. With Kavanaugh, once one woman is derided, another one appears. Once one email is addressed, another is produced. It is a never-ending cycle of attacks, with the goal of getting Kavanaugh to either not be confirmed or to quit first.
“The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.”
In order to defeat Kavanaugh, radical activists have accused him of wanting to overturn Roe v. Wade. This worst-case scenario is contrary to what Kavanaugh himself has stated that, in his opinion, this is the settled law of the land. He has acknowledged that others may disagree and that the courts could overturn the landmark case. But he has indicated his intentions are not to do so. Nevertheless, because of a confidential 2003 email, he has become the face of forbidding abortion in America-the big bad white male who wants to take away reproductive rights for women. Imagination can lead to imaginary consequences, and fear of those imaginary consequences leads to confirmation hearing being delayed, just as we are seeing now with Kavanaugh.
“If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.”
If more and more women come forward, detailing alleged instances of molestation and rape by Kavanaugh, even if it is not true, it could result in his nomination not being confirmed. The left then has a chance of getting a feminist pro-life candidate on the Supreme Court, swinging the pendulum in their favored direction. The ends justify the means.
“The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.”
The successful alternative, in this case, is a democratic, pro-life candidate. Who has not molested or raped any of his or her significant others? At this point, Kavanaugh has been portrayed so poorly, that just about anyone without a love life appears better.
“Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”
Branding Kavanaugh as a molester and rapist cuts off his support network and isolates him from sympathy. It is easier and more effective to attack Kavanaugh personally, then to attack the Roe v. Wade issue directly. People fall faster than institutions. This may be cruel, but it is very effective, and it gets the job done.
In conclusion, Brett Kavanaugh may or may not be in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade, but the fear of him doing so has resulted in a play by play of “Rules for Radicals”. As a feminist in favor of reproductive rights for women, and one schooled in the methods used by radicals, I am more than aware of the tactics being used against Kavanaugh and why they are being used. But the bigger question remains; are we as Americans, pro-life or not, willing to sit by and watch a man’s life get destroyed because of the mere possibility that he might sway our Supreme Court in a conservative direction?