Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten – including the exclusivity of tight knit groups. In kindergarten I watched two or three girls become best friends to the exclusion of others whom they snubbed. As an adult, I have seen the same thing happen among family, friends and co-workers.
Within one adult circle, outsiders could not even cough appropriately. Any cough annoyed those who excluded and scorned others. Within the select circle, anything the accepted ones do – even if it is a major faux pas – is brushed aside as “everyone makes mistakes.” Outside of the circle, anything the unaccepted ones do – even if it is a minor faux pas – is identified, labeled, scorned, repeatedly reviewed and chalked up as further evidence of their unworthiness to be included in the “inner circle.”
I weary of the same routine in today’s politics: left vs. right; Democrats vs. Republicans. Every thought, word, action or twitch immediately goes under the other side’s fault-finding microscope. Obviously, both have differences of opinions on how to improve America to meet their standard. And just like in kindergarten, if the other side proposes a major bill, it is automatically rejected by the other side – even if they proposed a similar bill in the last legislative session.
In the last couple decades, the polarization has intensified. Last week we hit the epitome with the nomination of the fifth woman to be a Supreme Court judge. She reached the highest position possible in her chosen field. She entered the nomination process with an impressive list of credentials.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg received many accolades for her accomplishments in improving the opportunities for women through her career. When Amy Coney Barrett walked through the same doors as Ginsberg, the other party viewed her with great skepticism and scorn. She could not possibly be good enough for them, no matter how many credentials or accolades accompanied her, simply because she leans toward the conservative right. Everything she did, including adopting children from Haiti, received negative comments.
Still, Barrett made it through a door that used to be firmly shut against women when I was in kindergarten. She established a record for her skills in the law and held her own before the legislative committee reviewing her nomination. Any woman should be congratulated and recognized for reaching that pinnacle - so the Girl Scouts of America did. They prepared a twitter recognizing this fifth woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court since its inception in 1789.
The Girl Scouts praised Barrett as an example for girls across America. They did the same four years ago when Hillary Clinton became the first woman nominated as a national party’s candidate for president; at that time the Girl Scouts tweeted a post recognizing Clinton’s accomplishment during election season.
The Barrett tweet quickly received an onslaught of negative comments from those with viewpoints opposing her appointment. Although Barrett is officially sworn into the Court and her position not up for election, it was seen as a politically-slanted post. The Girl Scouts took down the tweet. Her opposition on the left refused to acknowledge the achievements of a woman with leanings to the right. The Clinton tweet stayed through the election and after.
And we are back in kindergarten, “You are not part of our circle. You are not good enough for that job or our acceptance.”
Grow up already, people. Being a women strong enough to lead means accepting that you cannot please everyone. The Girl Scouts should have left the tweet and underscored that they acknowledge the achievements of every woman who enters once-closed doors and pushes aside barriers that in some cultures even forbids girls from entering kindergarten.
Joan Hershberger is a former staff writer for the El Dorado News-Times and author of “Twenty Gallons of Milk and other columns from the El Dorado News-Times.”