Political struggles and confirmation hearings: Column
By Rich Elfers
Adolf Hitler in his book “Mein Kampf” wrote, “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” Hitler understood human nature, and he used it to rise to power in Germany. During our election seasons, the two parties go to war using Hitler’s advice.
To prove that, just look at the turmoil around the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings. This is a struggle for control of the Supreme Court. The Republican leadership started the war by denying President Obama’s confirmation, or even a hearing for his nominee, Justice Merrick Garland. The Democrats screamed foul. Even before Kavanaugh’s name was listed on a shortlist, the Democrats, seething with revenge, were determined to destroy any potential appointment’s confirmation.
They found their answer in Professor Christine Blasey Ford who came forward with an accusation of an alleged attempted teen rape. Guilty or innocent, true or false, this charge has rocked Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. Its timing makes it difficult for Republicans to confirm Kavanaugh’s appointment before the election. The Democratic hope is to delay the Senate vote until after the Democrats take power. If the Democrats are successful, they can potentially delay a vote on a Supreme Court justice until 2021.
Both Ford and Kavanaugh have become pawns in a bigger game – whose philosophy will dominate the government? Later accusations have only fanned the flames and enraged both sides.
Many people are sickened by the “bare-knuckle tactics” of both parties. The Republicans want to rush this vote through the Senate, but they don’t want to anger women voters before the election in the era of #MeToo, so they have to treat Ford and her fellow accusers with kid gloves.
Having been involved in elective office myself, I see that these tactics occur in every election. When I was on the Enumclaw City Council, the then mayor was set up to react to a provocation by two council members. They wanted to use her reaction to help one of them who wanted to run against her. The mayor was sharp enough to see the ambush coming and was deftly able to deflect the attack. I watched the provocation with my own eyes, amazed at the audacity and preplanning, if not its success.
When I was running for re-election, a woman accused me of being against a certain religious group in town. When I found out about it, I asked to talk to the woman. She refused, preferring to remain anonymous, spreading her account and doing damage to my campaign.
In another case in another town during the time just before an election, someone accused the mayor, up for re-election, of profiting from owning a farm near a major proposed development. It was false. The farm he owned was 2-3 miles away and was not even being considered for the construction site. Facts didn’t matter. Creating doubt was the goal.
This is how politics work at all levels of government. The higher the level, the nastier the tactics. During the last presidential campaign, both sides searched for dirt against their opponent. Part of the problem President Trump has right now with the Mueller investigation is about a meeting with Russians who promised to have evidence that would hurt Hilary Clinton’s chances of winning.
President George Washington warned Americans of his deep concern about political parties in his farewell address in 1797:
“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”
Ignorance of the political war that is being fought right now by both parties may destroy our government and our freedoms. The only defense against such tactics and motives is to be able to think critically, weighing evidence and accusations carefully. The only thing that stands between us and tyranny is an informed and discerning citizenry.
Rich Elfers is a columnist with the Courier-Herald in Enumclaw, a former Enumclaw City Council member and a Green River College professor. He can be contacted at email@example.com.