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Is Democracy Done? The Road after Kavanaugh

Is Democracy Done? The Road after Kavanaugh October 16, 2018

No, it’s not done. But that’s the right question. It means that unlike many Americans, you no longer take democracy for granted. Democracy can only be maintained by vigilance and we have been headed down the road to unfreedom for some time.

Democracy?The Kavanaugh appointment was a failure for our democracy on so many levels.

The Senate failed to fully vet a lifetime appointment with a faux FBI investigation of sexual assault charges and a refusal to release millions of pertinent documents about Kavanaugh’s record.

Why the subterfuge? This court represents the long sought after end game of conservatives who have been chomping at the bit to undermine minority rights and let corporate greed run amok. These undemocratic forces have been at work in the court for some time. Supreme Court rulings since the ‘80s made schools more segregated now that they were in the seventies. Voting rights and labor rights have been gutted more recently. Kavanaugh’s appointment will mean more power and wealth concentrated in the hands of a few.

How do we respond to such a cataclysmic event? Psalm 82 evokes a cosmic scene like that of our own Supreme Court. An outraged and disbelieving God sits among the judges and asks:  “How long will you defend evil people? How long will you show greater kindness to the wicked? Defend the weak and the orphans; Defend the rights of the poor and suffering.”

Note the repetition. First: How long, how long, HOW LONG! Some of us are in mourning. Take time to grieve. But note what comes next. DEFEND! Lament drives the psalmist to action.

No doubt Trump would have accused the God too of trying to incite a mob for disrupting this assembly.

The evildoers in this psalm are dubbed puny “gods.” They cause people to wander around in darkness rather than rescue the weak and needy.

We can relate the the psalmist’s horror. Today our elected leaders have made gods of greed. Every decision they are making benefits the top .1% of the wealthy rather than the majority. America is an oligarchy, with wealthy individuals hoarding often ill-gotten or inherited gains that enable them to buy elections and politicians.

Today, our elected leaders worship false gods to amass their personal and party power. They look the other way for their own political gain while our president praises tyrants, and white supremacists, locks children in cages, mocks sexual abuse survivors, and exploits his office to enrich his own family at great cost to global peace and security.

The Republican Party has embraced a Nietzschean worldview that promotes dignity for a few rather than dignity for all. It is a party that promotes survival of the fittest rather than love of neighbor. It fosters fear rather than unity.

This is a dangerous values proposition and we as people of faith must counter it with a loud, public, theological voice.

Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court is not the end of democracy. It must be the beginning of a renewed commitment to our democracy. Kavanaugh is nothing new, but should inspire new resistance. Like Civil Rights and anti-apartheid movement leaders, we too must organize to achieve what looks to be impossible.

About Rev. Jennifer Butler
Rev. Jennifer Butler is the founder and CEO of Faith in Public Life and the former chair of the White House Council on Faith and Neighborhood Partnerships. You can read more about the author here.
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