A message for our senator: Don’t vote for Kavanaugh

Nidhi Krishnan, Guest Writer

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In the coming weeks, our Senate will vote on the confirmation of judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. This vote is particularly prevalent to Indiana residents as our own Sen. Joe Donnelly may have the final say. Even though Donnelly identifies as a Democrat, he tends to support a plethora of Republican bills and motions, and he may join Republicans to support the appointment of Kavanaugh.

Over the weekend, my co-founder of Bloomington Students Demand Action Charlotte Siena had the opportunity to speak with Donnelly, and her request to vote no regarding Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment was met with the response that he had to vote in accordance with the majority of his constituents. This particular response deeply troubles me for a few reasons.

First, I’m yet to hear about a method that would accurately determine the popular opinion of Indiana. If we’re measuring public support based on phone calls to Donnelly, we know that politically disenfranchised individuals are not represented in this sample. Additionally, other polling methods come with sampling bias and underrepresentation of disenfranchised groups, so I’m weary of any evidence that a majority of Hoosiers support, or even care about, the appointment of Kavanaugh.

Even if a majority of Hoosier residents agree with the appointment of Kavanaugh, that does not justify a vote in affirmation. Our country’s representative democracy stems from the fear that “tyranny of the majority” could infringe on the rights of the minority. For example, if the majority of Indiana residents owned dogs and wanted to prohibit citizens from owning a cat, a majority vote would allow dog-lovers to make it illegal to own a cat in the U.S. Even if the proposed legislation is not fair or equitable to the minority of cat-lovers, it would still be passed because of the majority’s opinion.

In the same way, the majority of Hoosiers may support Kavanaugh, but that majority opinion fails to account for the minority that will be burdened with unimaginable hardship. That being said, the majority can be wrong. Donnelly’s job is not to automatically side with the majority; it is to consider all sides and make the decision that helps ALL Hoosiers.

While electability will be another factor in this vote,I fail to see how appealing to Republicans will garner significant support. It‘s been said many times throughout this election cycle that Democrats cannot win on Republican policies; we win by energizing our base. Considering the shockingly low voter turnout in Indiana, Donnelly does not need a single Republican vote to win this election. However, Donnelly can rely on Democrats to vote only if he can reassure Hoosiers that he will advocate for their well-being.

I’ve talked to many voters, especially young voters, who feel disengaged at the prospect of Donnelly voting in favor of Kavanaugh. A vote in affirmation would only contribute to this apathy, losing the progressive, young energy of this election cycle.

As I write this, I acknowledge the fact that I am not a political scientist. I recognize that my logic of how Democrats can win the midterms may be flawed, but even so, it doesn’t take a political scientist to cite the massive implications of this vote.

The generation who has led the fight for gun legislation would see their dreams fall short as Kavanaugh interprets the second amendment to favor the NRA. Our environmental state would spiral downwards in the face of Kavanaugh’s anti-regulation rulings. Millions of Americans would lose their insurance with the repeal of the individual mandate.

When considering these implications, electability seems unimportant. Even if Donnelly’s does lose support, the leaning of our highest court carries more weight than one senator from Indiana. Although he sometimes has to vote against the party establishment to preserve his reputation, this case is drastically different because of its irreversible and long term effects.

If he is the deciding vote, I call on him to prioritize the future of healthcare, gun control and our environment over his own electability.

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