I promised I’d write about Justice Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court Confirmation process. But I ran it by a few friends first. Some said, “Don’t do it, Laura! Stay away from politics. You’ll lose subscribers and friends. Angry mobs will storm your office. Hollywood stars will refuse to perform at your next event.”
Well, since the last big event was our wedding, and our five-year anniversary shindig is a few years away yet, I’ll take my chances with angry mobs and the Hollywood set.
Writing about real world events seems a bit more relevant than publishing “7 Steps to ABC” or “Four Ways to Tell Your Boss XYZ.” Current events can have a huge impact on the lives we lead, our finances, education, transportation and safety. The challenges we face aren’t just limited to the workplace.
Given that, I’ll dive right in…
It was interesting to follow the Supreme Court selection process. We noted the “fill in the blank” signs that appeared seconds after Judge Kavanaugh was named as the nominee. We watched the paid protester/spectator hysterics in chambers. We followed weeks of updates on his interviews and requests for more documents than from all previous Supreme Court nominees put together. We paid attention to those who met with him and those who refused. And finally, we were surprised, saddened and dismayed at how last minute allegations were enough to indict and incite a media circus that painted this highly qualified man as a monster.
It’s too bad Dr. Christine Blasey Ford did not get the confidentiality she requested early on. It’s also a shame her attorneys did not accept an offer by the Judiciary Committee to come to her location, so she could share her story in a much more private and non-intimidating setting. But no, we had to have a public spectacle.
VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS
Like many of you, I have friends who have experienced all kinds of assault. I also have friends whose loved ones were murdered. There is no way any one of us can assume to know what they’ve gone through. We can empathize for sure. If you’re human at all, you can’t not be impacted by someone’s story of trauma and loss. My heart breaks for friends who suffered through such indignity and violence and who still struggle today with the fallout. I’m angry I wasn’t able to be there for them and try to help prevent such a terrible injustice.
Injustice is what we fight against. Thankfully, we live in a country which recognizes all men are created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights. Thankfully, we are also capable of holding two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, as F. Scott Fitzgerald once said. Wise people can empathize with the accuser while still honoring the right of the accused to remain innocent until proven guilty.
Some said Justice Kavanaugh did not deserve these due process rights since this was “just a job interview” and not a criminal court. But does an unsubstantiated allegation justify treating someone with contempt? Does it make it okay to defame someone’s reputation and spread a storyline that the person MUST be guilty? I would suggest that any Human Resources Department worth their salt would treat a “job candidate” with a whole lot more professionalism, courtesy and respect than did some members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Bottom-line (or at the end of the day, like some like to say), it’s about decency. Both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh deserved to be treated with respect — by spectators in the room, by elected officials, by the media and by the American public. While I don’t expect to see fairness from the mainstream media, I do expect the people we elected to uphold the Constitution, put aside party politics and do their job in the best interests of our country.
WE MUST THINK FOR OURSELVES
I used to be more innocent and naive when I was younger. I believed what I read in the paper and later, got sucked into my share of stories on the Internet which were later proven false. As a former Human Resources professional, a paralegal in the Air Force, a frontline supervisor and a parent, I’ve had the wool pulled over my eyes a time or two.
No longer do I always take things at face value. After reading The Smear by Sharyl Attkisson, it opened my eyes to the predominance of well-funded, well-organized efforts (from within and outside the U.S.) that ruin careers, silence some and influence public opinion in support of an agenda. I’m not saying one side or the other is lily-white. But I am saying we’re wise to recognize that spontaneous, organic protests are now few and far between. As Sharyl urges, “think for yourself,” and I’d add, turn off CNN and read more widely if you want the whole picture.
We don’t get to have it both ways. We cannot demand civil liberties for some and not for others based on political ideology. We undermine our credibility when we insist on merit-based public service appointments and workplace promotions, yet practice favoritism based on gender or other forms of identity. You don’t get to publicly torment a person for months on end and then chastise him for presenting an impassioned defense, saying he doesn’t have the temperament to fulfill the role for which he’s so eminently qualified. I can think of nothing more unfair. But fairness was never the goal.
PRINCIPLES FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE
I wrote an article a while back on Employee Engagement and the Principle of Legitimacy. It was a Leadership 101 blog based on the Congress of Vienna in 1814. As monarchs who ruled before Napoleon tried to put Europe back together gain, they came up with a governance guideline to ensure peace and order. It included concepts that still hold true today as we strive to manage our country, communities, families and the workplace. They are:
1. Rules don’t change: we want to know what we can count on. No one likes to be evaluated against a moving target. Certainty is one of the greatest human needs. This country was founded on the principle, “innocent until proven guilty.” Elected officials and media darlings who now assert certain people under certain circumstances aren’t afforded that respect do not deserve to hold public office or expect us to believe they are fair, impartial or credible.
2. Authority is fair: fair process is the cornerstone of sound leadership and good governance. People need to know the system works and doesn’t discriminate. Remember that bit about “justice is blind” where a blindfolded Lady Justice holds the scales? While our system is certainly not perfect, it is a goal we should continue to vigorously pursue.
3. Things make sense: the reasonable person can see a pattern, cause of action, greater purpose and when the ends justify the means. Nobody likes to feel like they fell down a rabbit hole and the American public is smarter than some give us credit for.
4. People have a voice and deserve to be heard: we all want the chance to raise issues, express concerns, identify gaps and fix problems. Freedom of speech must be protected, but that doesn’t mean we have the right to be violent, disrespectful or slanderous. If we want to live in a civil society, rights come with responsibilities.
There’s a great deal of emphasis within the workplace, leadership books and some universities about the importance of critical thinking skills and the wisdom of “thought leaders.” If we truly want to cultivate those attributes, we should pay careful attention to circumstances leading up to the demise of civilizations. (Read about Venezuela under socialism at https://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/venezuela-mass-exodus-socialism/) Typically, it’s when emotion takes precedence over logic and reason — when leaders scrap those God-given unalienable rights in favor of an ideology — when power is more important than fairness.
Whether you agreed or disagreed with Senator Susan Collins vote, she said it best:
“The fundamental legal principles about due process, presumption of innocence and fairness do bear on my thinking and I cannot abandon them. We will be ill served in the long run if we abandon the presumption of innocence and fairness. It is when passions are most inflamed that fairness is most in jeopardy. Abandoning this would be hugely damaging to the confirmation process.” –Senator Susan Collins, Maine
Watch the full confirmation hearings with Dr. Ford and Justice Kavanaugh at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZ7ovA37u-0 (Canadian public broadcast service)
Read a few of Judge Kavanaugh’s 300 judicial opinions written during his 12-year record on the DC Court of Appeals. Access the Congressional Research Service Essential Reader at https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/LSB10177.pdf
Listen to Senator Susan Collins speech and why she voted to confirm: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRpSJed5xsA (Skip to the 25 minute mark if your time is limited.)
OR read the transcript at http://time.com/5417444/susan-collins-kavanaugh-vote-transcript/