Many of us were glued to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing last week featuring testimony by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh –- clinging to every word of Dr. Ford’s heartbreaking testimony, collectively gasping at open contempt Kavanaugh had for Senate Democrats, the process and the truth.
We sighed in relief when, at the 11th hour, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake announced his request for an FBI investigation. If the relief was tenuous at best, after a rollercoaster of a day we thought some reason had at least entered this very flawed process with an all too brief pause. Maybe our democracy wasn’t doomed. Maybe our Constitution wasn’t tattered.
We quickly grew more alarmed as we realized that the same investigation that Senate Democrats and then Dr. Ford’s attorney’s had long requested would be curated by the White House to appease the opposition — to produce an FBI background report to support the Judge’s vehement denials and to leave Dr. Ford’s accusations uncorroborated.
Last week reminded me of my brief stint on Capitol Hill where, after attending countless hearings, I realized that many of those hearings were hardly hallmark demonstrations of the duty of the Legislative Branch to check the Executive Branch. Rather, they resembled the hundreds of performances that I’d taken part in during my years as a dancer: a carefully choreographed and rehearsed show, presented before an audience.
The White House hamstrung the FBI’s brief follow-up investigation to quell the opposition, to support the excuses and claims offered by Kavanaugh and to race toward a perception of pursuing truth that was actually a predetermined outcome. The FBI “completed” its truncated investigation on Friday and forwarded its findings to Republican party that treated the truth about Kavanaugh as just another hurdle, an obstacle to “ram in through” by Nov. 6.
Friday’s cloture vote coupled with Senators’ statements to the press indicated Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to our nation’s highest court on Saturday. However he will be seen as an illegitimate arbiter of the truth and, as a result, will cast doubt on the legitimacy of our Judicial Branch.
There are numerous questions to ask right now including:
How do we face sexual assault survivors, many of whom have been re-traumatized by the experience of watching Ford and the Republicans, and a government that has decided their trauma doesn’t matter?
How can we have faith in a criminal justice system that incarcerates black and brown Americans at alarmingly high rates and an immigration system that detains minors?
And where do we go from here?
Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post has opined that Democrats must get energized, make their voices heard and get even at the polls next month. I totally agree. But like many others during these dark times, I still wonder if my actions make a difference.
I’m currently throwing myself into my work and have found new meaning in my dance teaching, a second job I’ve continued long after retiring from performing. I am learning to savor the small, often unseen breakthrough moments where my students become ever so slightly in their bodies and better able to express themselves through movement. My students serve as inspiration. They show up. They work hard. The accumulation of the many moments of hard work and focus translates into real growth.
Tuning in more to my students’ experiential learning reminds me to keep at it. Yes, I will continue knocking on doors, phone banking, having conversations with those I disagree with, protesting, dancing, and supporting my community of engaged, activist artists. While we reel at the events of the past weeks and mourn the progress we thought we’d made as a society on the anniversary of the #MeToo movement, each of us must find ways to take care of ourselves and find moments of inspiration to continue the fight. I still wonder if my actions make a difference. But I still have to act.