At the very end of “Tora! Tora! Tora!,” a 1970 film about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto expresses his concern about attacking America: “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”
After Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation fiasco, Democrats should be similarly concerned. Here’s why.
First, Republicans had their own “woke” moment.
Midterm elections usually result in gains for the opposition party in the House and Senate, in part because the opposition’s voters are more motivated.
But Senate Democrats’ actions and statements — along the lines of “I am Spartacus” — along with protesting mobs may alter that trend.
The term “stay woke” refers to a leftist movement that stresses awareness and action on social and racial justice issues.
Republicans, and a lot of middle America, had their own woke moment during the Kavanaugh hearings — especially during Sen. Lindsey Graham’s heartfelt denunciation of the process.
According to a recent Rasmussen poll, 62 percent of Republicans are now more likely to vote vs. 54 percent of Democrats. If those percentages hold, they could easily shift several close elections to Republicans. Indeed, several GOP Senate candidates saw a bump in the polls after Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Second, people were troubled about the Democrats abandoning the presumption of innocence in grilling Kavanaugh.
The public saw compelling but unsubstantiated last-minute charges brought against a judge with decades of unblemished public service.
And they saw Democrats willing to do or say anything to undermine Kavanaugh’s confirmation — including outing Dr. Christine Blasey Ford by leaking her letter even though she had pleaded for privacy.
As a result, Rasmussen also found 62 percent of all voters are angry about how the Senate treated Kavanaugh.
Accusations are important, but so is evidence. Abandoning the presumption of innocence means rejecting one of the country’s foundational principles. I think many voters will be reluctant to side with those who cast that principle aside.
Finally, Americans saw Kavanaugh’s opponents undermine the long-cherished civility in American politics.
Shortly after the 2004 presidential election, I was in Washington, D.C., riding in a cab driven by a man of Middle Eastern descent. He told me how envious he was of the American political process. Everyone peacefully accepts the results of an election, he noted. Well, they did until 2016.
In his country, he said, the losers protest, riot and even pull out guns to kill the winners. Remember the left-wing extremist who tried to murder Republican Rep. Steve Scalise last year?
During the Kavanaugh confirmation process, average Americans saw what had typically been a dignified event turned into a political circus.
From the outbursts at the back of the confirmation hearing room, to banging on the Supreme Court door, to ripping signs out of pro-Kavanaugh supporters’ hands, to screaming at senators in the Senate corridors, to wailing in the streets, it was quite a spectacle. But it’s not a spectacle most Americans want in their political process.
Americans support the First Amendment’s right to freedom of speech and protest. But they also believe protesters should be civil and respectful. The Kavanaugh protesters were neither.
And far from denouncing those actions, including outbursts during the Kavanaugh hearings, Democrats encouraged and embraced them. Some Democratic lawmakers even joined the protesters and urged them on.
I believe Democrats have overplayed their hand and may pay a price at the polls in November. Average voters, even those not enamored with President Donald Trump, do not want to reward that kind of behavior.
Republicans were facing headwinds going into the midterm elections — and they still are. But Democratic support for, and perhaps even coordination with, the angry disruptors may have aroused enough Republicans and independents — that “sleeping giant” — to get them out to vote.
The op-ed above appeared in the following publications:
OCTOBER 18, 2018 // ROCHESTER (MN) POST-BULLETIN (40,902) // Op-ed “The Dems’ uncivil badgering of Kavanaugh angered many voters” by Merrill Matthews // https://www.postbulletin.com/opinion/other_views/con-kavanaugh-nomination-more-likely-to-energize-woman-democratic-voters/article_bb657654-d2a8-5719-89ff-58367ab5dd73.html
OCTOBER 18, 2018 // RICHMOND (VA) TIMES-DISPATCH (108,559) * // Op-ed “The Dems’ uncivil badgering of Kavanaugh angered many voters” by Merrill Matthews // https://www.richmond.com/commentary/ap/pro-the-dems-uncivil-badgering-of-kavanaugh-angered-many-voters/article_60216fec-5255-5770-8e84-411f3965c342.html
OCTOBER 18, 2018 // CHICAGO TRIBUNE (414,590) // Op-ed “The Dems’ uncivil badgering of Kavanaugh angered many voters” by Merrill Matthews // http://www.chicagotribune.com/sns-tns-bc-kavanaugh-gop-con-20181018-story.html
OCTOBER 18, 2018 // SACRAMENTO BEE (122,600) * // Op-ed “The Dems’ uncivil badgering of Kavanaugh angered many voters” by Merrill Matthews // https://www.sacbee.com/news/news-services/article220216205.html