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"Spartacus Moments" Part III: What Happened?

Just after the gavel came down and the hearing came to a close on Sept. 28, Sen. Jeff Flake is surrounded by fellow Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC) above left, Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), lower right. Flake had just appealed for a delay on Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation vote. David Butow—Redux for TIME

Jeff Flake’s “Spartacus Moment” demanding that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford be heard was followed by a second attempt at wielding a Spartacus-worthy spine. Flake was the sole GOP to demand an FBI investigation. However, the call for utter justice was not emphatic enough. Lady Liberty has been suffocated. The US Senate has failed Ford, as well as Kavanaugh’s other accusers. Not only has the assailant Brett Kavanaugh moved freely for decades in a career representing our nation’s legal system, he has ascended to the Supreme Court even after his actions were dragged into the light. People everywhere have been shown attackers win and are reified. This has to change.

Like Anita Hill unfortunately had to do before her, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford gave a powerful testimony. Projecting raw but steadied emotion, Dr. Ford detailed her troubling assault at the hands of Brett Kavanaugh. Women were re-triggered and the country shivered with disgust as Kavanaugh yanked a page out of the “Trump playbook,” serving up lies in the form of an adamant denial—complete with a side of conspiracy theory! To me, it was like listening to an entitled weasel’s pathetic, last-ditch attempt to be accepted into the country club. This childish lack of accountability has no place on our high courts.

Yet again it took the testimony of women to push Senator Flake to apparent nobility. Following his announcement of intention to support the judge, Flake received very vocal feedback from the real changemakers—Maria Gallagher and Ana Maria Archila. These two iron-willed women cornered Flake in an elevator, catalysts that forced Flake to hear their own raw story. These women were doing what women always have had to do, emotional work forged from negligence of Truth. Flake seemed to be considering the “right side of history” as he called for a delay in the confirmation vote and an FBI investigation.  

Senator Cory Booker revived interest in acting righteously, at once enacting and coining the phrase “Spartacus Moment.” Whereas Booker’s charge led several of his colleagues to amplify it, Flake’s ultimately fell short. Not a single Republican besides Senator Lisa Murkowski voted against Kavanaugh, nor did they speak up! On the other hand, Booker’s passionate action sparked already-vulnerable North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp vote her conscious, likely resulting in a surrender of her senate seat. A “Spartacus Moment” demands a team, an entourage of courage.

In the end, neither Senator was able to change the end result. Just like in the actual historical event, the powerful prevailed. Nevertheless, both Senator Booker and Senator Flake served with honor. Thus, I must insist: the more influential men join the fight and wield their power responsibly, even if victory does not materialize, either in their pursuit, and even at the ballot box. (I’m talking to you Joe Manchin!)  The type of rallying cry that Senator Booker created could and should have led to more men—and those in power—taking a stand. The bottom line is to be bold. Be like Spartacus.

In turn, this will enable all of us to confront abuses of power. It is our hope at FF2 Media that we will learn from these “Spartacus Moments” and boost them. That fire must make change, and the more the uber powerful stand up, the farther the rallying cries will burn.  

© Jarrod Emerson (10/04/18) FF2 Media

Bottom photo: Spartacus (Credit: Bryna Productions)