OPINION: Fighting through the cynicism of politics

Scott Rainey

Brett Kavanaugh, our newest Supreme Court justice, is a huge beer fanatic. He likes beer now, and he liked beer back in 1983. Many people cite his love of beer, multiple sexual assault allegations, his poor temperament, his propensity to ask Senators if they have ever blacked out and his attacks on Democrats as reasons he shouldn’t be on the Supreme Court. But do these things actually disqualify him? Well, yeah. Of course.

The United States Senate Republicans didn’t care about any of this. That or they denied the allegations and thought it was perfectly rational to get teary-eyed over some wildly specific calendars. Republicans just wanted this guy to get into the Supreme Court to help them out a little bit. Who knows why, really.

Last spring I was an intern in the U.S. Senate. The duties of the Senate intern mostly include answering phones and sorting through mail. We were the front lines of communication with the Senators constituents and the public at-large. Many constituents who call with opinions about current events do so as they’re watching the news. In fact, we could sometimes hear Fox News in the background of a phone call as callers spoke.

As it turns out, the American public, much like all of us, had pre-determined opinions about issues regardless of whatever facts they see to the contrary. They spoke about whatever was on the news that day, and each week, Senators get to see what their constituents said about how they should vote on the issues.

This means the Senators who decided that Kavanaugh was innocent, truthful and qualified had many constituents who thought the same thing. For senators, if half of your constituents agree with whatever you were going to do anyway, then there’s no reason for you not to do the thing that you or your party wants. Sometimes, you’ll do things you actually disagree with because your constituents run the show.

While I was in D.C., my group and I spoke with a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives. We asked him questions about all kinds of issues, but one thing that stuck out to me was what he said about climate change and Republican constituents.

He told us that even if Republican congressmen believed in climate change (as he does, himself), he said that their constituents (mostly) do not, and if that congressmen or women were to say they believed in it, their constituents would vote for someone else who didn’t believe in it.

This is quite a cynical viewpoint, yeah? It shows that our representatives ultimately care about their jobs more than their conscience about what is right. But this also gives us some hope because it means the American people have more influence than they think. The only problem is that about half the people believe the exact opposite of what you believe. So it’s complicated and frustrating.

It still means that we need to call our Senators and go out to vote. It’s hard to think much will get done, but the other side is making phone calls and going to go to the polls.Unless we’re just okay with the other side running the show, we have to speak up and vote. If we don’t want another lad who likes beer appointed to the Supreme Court, we have to speak up, and we have to vote.

Scott Rainey is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected].