The Atlantic

The Divide Over Kavanaugh Isn’t as Big as It First Appears

Even as voters disagree, many are drawing on the same basic set of values to reach opposing conclusions.
Source: Toya Sarno Jordan / Reuters

Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation battle and the sexual-assault allegations against him have cleaved many Americans into enemy camps. Many critics feel certain that he sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford and that he would threaten women and discredit the Supreme Court if confirmed; many defenders feel as certain that he is innocent and that his defeat would encourage future character assassinations.

Observing members of these groups as they commiserate among themselves is unnerving. Confronting the same reality, they reach opposite conclusions—and they suspect that everyone in the other camp has malign or unjust motivations. Absent new evidence that adds clarity to what happened more than three decades ago, Ross Douthat writes, “this is going to be an open wound for years to come, in an already bloodied body politic.”

True. And yet the size of the wound is still to be determined.

This isn’t an effort to minimize the stakes in Supreme Court nominations, to dismiss feelings of anger and righteous indignation at aspects of this one, or to discourage anyone from calling their senators or protesting in an effort to affect the vote. This is about what happens afterward, when rival sides have

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic8 min readPolitics
The U.S. Is About to Do Something Big on Hong Kong
Protests there have demonstrated the enduring appeal of American values and power. But can Washington live up to that promise?
The Atlantic9 min read
The Plot Against Persona
It’s preposterous for Lana Del Rey and other musicians to deny that they’re playing characters. But in this pop landscape, that denial might be necessary.
The Atlantic5 min readScience
A Woman’s AncestryDNA Test Revealed a Medical Secret
As a cancer patient, she had received cord-blood cells from an anonymous donor. The DNA from those cells led her to him.