This week, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has held hearings for Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh that could be described as nothing short of extraordinary.
The first meeting on Tuesday began with Democratic senators moving to adjourn on the grounds of missing documents from Kavanaugh’s record. The next few hours were interrupted nearly two dozen times by vociferous protesters in the room who were escorted out and arrested by police. Throughout the affair, Democrats and Republicans alike expressed their deep dissatisfaction with the politicization of the process, while simultaneously hurling pointed political barbs at the other side. It was fascinating at times, ugly and demoralizing at others.
This isn’t what the democratic process has ever looked like in our lifetime. It’s hard to say what comes of these hearings, other than a Supreme Court Justice approved in the Senate by a razor thin margin and under the convolution of a president marred by an ongoing federal investigation.
“I think that what you’ve started to see in the last…four or five years is the Senate begin to break down in a way that is highly unusual and, I think, really problematic for a lot of people who have been around Washington longer than I have,” says Alberta.
“Especially for a lot of these newer members, they have come to view politics in Washington as a zero-sum game and that it is sort of all-out partisan warfare,” he says. “They have assumed these roles now of no compromise, and, in doing so, trying to keep their base fired up. But the affect that it has on their base when they eventually do gain power can be very corrosive. And so, talk about kind of a downward spiral. It brings you to a place where you kind of wonder how you do get out of it.”
Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.