By Kaya Leitner ’19
Sexual assault should not be a partisan issue. The sad reality is that it has seemed to evolve into one. I don’t intend to take a position on whether or not Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testified truthfully or if Dr. Christine Blasey Ford did. America is arguing and taking opposing sides on an issue far more concerning: whether or not to believe the stories of sexual assault victims.
Every Democrat I speak to on the issue is invariably convinced that Ford is completely truthful, while conservatives depict Ford’s testimony as an orchestrated political hitjob, reflexively rejecting her account.
Republican officials have even gone as far as to openly ridicule Ford on the issue. Donald Trump Jr. took to Instagram to mock the allegations. A photo was posted of a fake crayon-scrawled note reading, “Hi Cindy will you be my girlfriend? Love Bret.” Trump Jr. captioned the image with “Judge Kavanaugh’s sexual assault letter found by Dems.”
Regardless of your political affiliations, I find it highly inappropriate to delegitimize the severity of these claims and trivializing the context by pandering to the lowest common denominator.
The issue lays on both sides. Donald Trump can decry this as a “dangerous time to be a young man,” while liberals seem to ignore any possibility that Ford is inaccurate or wrong in any way.
These advancements do not bode well for our society. While is it is clearly alarming that the Republican party has apparently put politics over true investigative analysis, that is their risk to take and ultimately it may or may not be their downfall at the polls in November.
However, there may be another less obvious––but just as significant––danger currently going unnoticed. The hyper-partisan paradigm that dominates current discourse has polarized the nation so much so that going forward, no accusation of this type is going to get a fair hearing for either side.
God forbid, but if something were to happen to me, I would want my allegations to be judged based on the facts, not on political agendas. The fact that victims run the risk of being caught in a political battle should not be another obstacle in the already arduous process of reporting and recounting sexual assaults.
All of these cases––and any case involving alleged misconduct––is separate from politics and has to be judged on its own merits. This is, and has been, a basic tenet of American justice. In order to do that, we need a jury pool made up of people who are able to evaluate testimony of accusers and defendants fairly, without a previously established position. We may be running out of those people.