Let me say it again: I believe survivors. I believe Christine Blasey Ford. And I still believe Anita Hill.
Twenty-seven years ago Clarence Thomas was confirmed to the US Supreme Court marred by allegations of sexual harassment, and Brett Kavanaugh’s elevation represents a familiar travesty – the result of a deeply-flawed process that, once again, disregarded the experiences of survivors, and undermined the principles of morality and independence that were supposed to define our nation’s highest court.
From the very beginning the Kavanaugh confirmation process has been plagued by a lack of transparency. Justice should not be a partisan issue. And I am supremely confident that Kavanaugh has proven himself to be unhinged, unfit, and unqualified. Kavanaugh’s tenure on the bench will be indelibly colored by the stories of Ford, Deborah Ramirez, and Julie Swetnick.
As the survivors, women, advocates, and allies who fought so passionately against this nomination consider what comes next, I’m left with a few thoughts:
We still have a long, long way to go toward a society where the stories of survivors are lifted up and treated with the dignity they demand. The courage it took Hill and Ford to share their stories and subject themselves to the glaring spotlight of a Senate hearing cannot be overstated. The public questioning, harassment, and intimidation they opened themselves to is no longer surprising, but it is no less dispiriting.
As a survivor, I struggled for years to tell my own story, and I know how it feels to be a survivor in a country where the president openly mocks Ford, where believing and supporting survivors has become a partisan issue, where survivors are made to feel marginalized and ostracized. It is a country that none of us should be comfortable living in, and a country none of us should be willing to accept.
Creating real change requires continued movement and coalition building. It requires that more elected leaders listen to their constituents and keep themselves in close proximity to the pain, and it demands systemic change – to ensure that our institutions of power more accurately reflect the diversity and lived experience of those in our communities.
With Donald Trump still in the White House, with Republicans still in control of Congress, and – for the first time in a generation – a Supreme Court that threatens to overturn our civil and reproductive rights, the voices of survivors, women, advocates, and allies will be more important than ever – in the halls of power, in the streets, and at the ballot box.
This moment can go down as one of the darkest hours in our nation’s history, or it can be the galvanizing force for the strongest progressive movement in a generation.
The opportunity to create that progressive change is not lost. The last three months have once again revealed the incredible strength of an electorate that is engaged and energized. So many survivors were compelled to share their stories – empowering and creating space for others to do the same; so many amazing candidates have won elections; so many critical organizations have seen an outpouring of support.
The midterm elections are a month away, and they are an opportunity for voters to fundamentally reframe the national conversation. Flipping the House of Representatives and maybe even the Senate will create a significant roadblock to the draconian, cruel policies currently being advanced in Washington, and will create a foothold for the development of a progressive agenda that will meaningfully benefit all of our communities.
It is equally important to elect bold, progressive leaders at the state and local level, because they will play an increasingly important role in safeguarding the rights of women and traditionally marginalized groups, and fighting back against the assaults of the Trump administration.
The confirmation of Kavanaugh was heart-wrenching for many – including myself – but we cannot allow ourselves to be defeated or defeatist. My heart breaks and swells at the same time because those who raised their voices, protested, and fought for justice have shown us democracy at its best.
We must rally around one another, to support survivors and to refocus our efforts and our energy on Nov. 6, because change can’t wait, especially not now.
Ayanna Pressley is an At-Large Boston City Councilor and the 2018 Democratic nominee for the 7th Congressional District.