Editor’s note: This Community Voice was one of numerous entries in our recently concluded Emerging Writers Contest.

One morning I woke up to hear Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony like basically everyone else in America. She did everything a woman needs to do to be taken seriously.

She didn’t cry or raise her voice. Her clothes were feminine but conservative. Her hair was not too short or too long. She wore makeup and glasses, so she was attractive but not too attractive.

Most days, I take issue with that list of requirements. But, I wanted those men to believe her, so I cheered her conformance. Compromises, I guess.

Her testimony was solid, and I thought, for a moment, that it would be enough. Then, I heard Brett Kavanaugh speak. Twenty minutes into his opening statement, I texted my mom and my sister — “Kavanaugh is winning this hearing.”

Brett Kavanaugh appealed to Trump’s political base in order to win confirmation, the author argues.

Flickr: chose trend

See, as a former Republican, I still hear all the dog whistles.

His testimony littered with phrases of war — “search and destroy,” “blow me up” and “unleashed and publicly deployed” — to remind Republican voters that they are at war with Democrats.

He mentioned George W. Bush’s 2000 election, “outside left-wing opposition groups,” and of course, the Clintons. He gave any wavering partisans reference points to find their way back.

But, I didn’t understand what he was doing until he shed tears over his 10-year-old daughter who reminded his wife during their nightly prayers that they should “pray for the woman.”

The girls he spent time with in high school went to Catholic schools. Dr. Ford’s school, he noted, was “independent.” And, his calendars did not include church on Sundays because “going to church on Sundays was like brushing my teeth, automatic. It still is.”

He used the kindness of a child to highlight his evangelical credentials — his ideal family included. He professed a lifetime commitment to his faith that he suggested Dr. Ford didn’t share. It was a reprehensible way to draw out his real audience — President Trump’s base. Even worse, it worked.

Swinging Elections

As of Oct. 2, 45 percent of white women said Kavanaugh should be confirmed. They stood behind Trump and laughed while he mocked Dr. Ford. They’re the Concerned Women for America committed to “bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy” traveling the country on a Women for Kavanaugh bus tour. They are Republican voters re-activated by Kavanaugh’s performance.

And, it’s a mistake to continue underestimating them.

While the media and most viewers criticized Kavanaugh’s performance as unhinged, the sluggish Republican base was energized with an injection of Kavanaugh’s “righteous indignation.”

Those voters are well-beyond our reach. But, we forget that they also influence voters on the margins. Voters who aren’t entrenched in a political ideology but interact with the Republican base at church every Sunday. Those are the voters we can’t write off.

Kavanaugh’s testimony reminded Republican voters that they are at war with Democrats.

I know them. I’ve interacted with them. They’re the ones that say apologize when someone from their church lashes out at me for my politics. They’re the ones that secretively whisper to me that Jesus wouldn’t like Trump. They’re the ones — especially the women — that can swing elections.

Those women are the best hope for our fight to be believed when we speak up, treated equally by our political systems and ensure our girls have the same opportunities as our boys. If we want change, we need to treat them like allies.

In 2016, my white, evangelical Christian mother reluctantly voted for Trump, like many, feeling slighted by the Clinton campaign’s disparaging comments about her faith. After two years of complete Republican control, a disgraceful Senate confirmation and my political battles with fundamentalists, she knows her faith — a real Christianity founded on compassion and kindness — is threatened by the very people who claim to protect it.

And, she’ll vote accordingly.

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