Senator Ben Sasse on #MeToo and Kavanaugh Nomination

Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska delivered a powerful speech on the floor of the United States Senate yesterday. It is not a partisan diatribe. It is the thoughtful reflection of a statesman who sees the big picture.

Senator Sasse acknowledges that we have witnessed some disgraceful moments over the last two weeks in the Senate Judiciary Committee. There have been ugly smears and worse. But Senator Sasse doesn’t get into all that in this speech. He is simply making an important point about what the coming vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination means. He rejects the premise that the vote is about whether or not we care about women and abuse:

We’re being told now that our vote isn’t about a specific individual, a specific seat, or specific evidence. But rather, we’re being told that choice before us in this confirmation is a much broader choice about whether we do or don’t care about women…

But you know what my constituents back in Nebraska told me this weekend they think this is now about? They think this is about us. They think its about all of us in this town being addicted to the circus. They don’t think very many of us are interested in truth. They think we’re interested in political instrumentality. They think we’re interested in exploiting differences and divisions in America because we’re addicted to short term power in a city that isn’t worthy of much respect.

In closing, let me read you one more note from another Nebraska woman this week:

I was angry at yesterday’s hearing [this came in last Friday actually], angry that something as important as a conversation about the victimization of a woman at the hands of a man became just another move in a game of partisan chess. But I was also deeply troubled. Troubled that the painful memories shared by Dr. Ford in that hearing, troubled by the painful memories it evoked in women across the country who have suffered sexual violence. Troubled by the fact that this violence comes at the hands of men. I’m deeply saddened by this violence committed at the hands of men. I just can’t comprehend it. I weep for our sons and for our daughters that it exists in our fallen world. And to those victims for whom yesterday’s hearing brought fresh pain, I am so sorry that a political circus opened these wounds anew. I’m sorry that this abomination of humanity was ever experienced at all.

She continues:

Senator, I want you to vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, but I also worry that the vote might be heard as a reflection on the validity on other women’s experiences. I worry that pundits are going to tell women that. I’m tired of women’s stories just being used for politicians’ ends.  I’m tired of women being used and discarded. Women’s pain isn’t just supposed to be a political football.

She’s obviously right.

The MeToo movement doesn’t belong to politicians.

The MeToo movement has elevated our consciousness and our awareness of sexual assault and sexual violence against women. And we must not give back the important ground in this movement by authorizing this media circus to stand in for generations of stories and tragic pain. And no matter how much cable news screams this, it would be an egregious offense against the cause of women to call this one “up or down” a proxy for the validation and validity of claims of sexual violence.

We can do better than that and we must do better—if we’re actually going to care about women and if we’re going to serve our constituents in this body.

This is spot-on, and so is the rest of the speech. I encourage you to listen to the whole thing above. You can read the entire transcript here.

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