Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

A Good Day for America

Christine Blasey Ford (Associated Press/Michael Reynolds)

Christine Blasey Ford (Associated Press/Michael Reynolds)

Ann Skeet

Stepping over an admittedly low bar, members of the United States Senate gave Americans reasons to feel encouraged today, and most likely many others around the world. Both individually and collectively the body and the people in it improved their performance. 

There were some fine examples of moral personal leadership. Measured observations from Senator Amy Klubachar. Reasoned commentary from Senator Chris Coons, and finally, a pause and a gesture from Senator Jeff Flake. Right there on the computer screen, the iPhone, or the TV, for all the world to see, a hand reached across the aisle and rested on a friend’s shoulder and two senators from opposing sides of the aisle went to talk. 

We may never know if the women who stopped Senator Flake in the elevator after he announced his decision to confirm Kavanaugh changed his mind, or it was changed by the compelling words of his colleagues, planned political theater, or his own conscience working to discern the right course of action. Likely it was some combination of elements. The important thing is that it changed. 

In all those individual acts, the senators on the Judiciary Committee demonstrated that they could, in fact, play their position and keep the interests of the American people front and center, over the needs and desires of their own political parties, the nominee, or their own careers. It is a welcome return to alignment of roles and mission. Let’s hope it lasts. 

Within the body, there appeared to be a refreshing return to the long-lost roles and responsibilities that committee chairs, majority leaders, and even presidents of the United States hold. Meetings between senators of different parties began last night right after the hearing testimony ended and continued today. And somewhere in heaven, John McCain likely smiled.

Sep 28, 2018

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