It is impossible to prove a negative.
Since the inception of the very idea of the United States, we have striven for the idea that a person is innocent until proven guilty. It is an ideal that separated the United States from many places in the world, and still does to this day. The reason this idea is so important to the American system is that it is antithetical to liberty to ask someone to prove they didn’t do something.
Because it is impossible to prove the negative.
Yet, here we are, with Brett Kavanaugh facing now two allegations of sexual assault. He will not face trial for either allegation, because there simply is not enough evidence to take it that far. However, that there will be no trial is a double-edged sword, because it means that Kavanaugh will never have the chance to clear his name, which is now being dragged through the mud by people who dislike him because he is a conservative judge, appointed by Donald Trump to replace a retiring swing vote on the Supreme Court.
There is very little evidence to suggest that these accusations are anything more than political smears thrown out as an 11th-hour attempt to derail Kavanaugh’s confirmation. All that the Democrats have to do is keep shoveling on the filth in an attempt to bury his chances.
If it works, his name will replace Robert Bork’s as the ultimate destruction of a SCOTUS nominee.
And, that’s what it comes down to. His name.
I am reminded of John Proctor’s short monologue in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible when he decides he cannot sign a document affirming his guilt, but allowing him to live:
Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!
Proctor cannot live with the idea that his name will be smeared, forever documented as a practitioner of witchcraft, despite no serious evidence that he was ever a witch. Based on the allegations of young women caught doing the wrong thing, Proctor was ultimately sentenced to death, a death he chose because he could not let them have his name.
That is the future Democrats now expect Kavanaugh to face. Either he resigns the nomination or they will force the Republicans to kill it for him. Not because there is credible evidence against him – the accusers are the only “witnesses” to the alleged assaults, as all other named witnesses have gone on the record to say that the man never committed such acts – but because he believes in the wrong things. Things like the original intent of the Constitution and the idea that it may not actually guarantee the right to murder the unborn.
But, here we are, living in a world and a time where mere accusations can permanently destroy a man’s reputation and career because of politics. It is the most un-American treatment a person could get, and yet it has become all-too-familiar in proceedings like these.
At this point, it is fast becoming clear that if Republicans allow this circus to continue, Democrats will be further incentivized to do it again and again. They see it as a successful tactic – nevermind the damage it does to the family of the accused as well as the accusers.
It is, in a sense, a re-telling of The Crucible and a terrible warning that the time has come yet again to have this conversation. Is a man innocent until proven guilty, or guilty until proven innocent?
If it is not the former, then we as a country are headed down a dark and dangerous path.