Our Founding Fathers must be spinning in their graves at the spectacle of the confirmation hearings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Right?

Actually, probably not.

The framers of the Constitution understood all too well what fate would befall the Republic if factionalism and the will to power gained sway.

They were no better men than we. They were just as subject to the seduction of the deadly sins, just as capable both of great nobility and disappointing venality. Their genius lay in recognizing their own fallibility and the imperfectability of man. They were not utopians. They understood that the only means of protecting ourselves from ourselves is to put constraints on power.

They did this by establishing checks and balances within the federal government and between the federal government and the states, and enshrining in the first 10 amendments to the Constitution individual rights that cannot be abridged.

The framers understood that the desire for power to "do good" is as dangerous as the naked ambition to wield it for selfish or evil ends. The great mythmaker of the 20th century, J.R.R. Tolkien, built his opus "The Lord of the Rings" around the same premise: that the mechanism of absolute dominance - the One Ring - could not be wielded for "good," that its insidious influence would inevitably corrupt its bearer, consuming them in love/lust for the object of power itself.

The mythic tale that has captured the current zeitgeist is a grittier, more historically grounded tale - HBO's "Game of Thrones," based on George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire." In Martin's world, politics and the quest for power is a blood sport. "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die." Being too noble or too honorable wins nothing but a date with the headsman.

The brutal, cynical myth holds sway today. Who, after all, is going to reject the temptation of power?

The Kavanaugh confirmation hinges on a decades-old allegation of sexual misconduct that can never be proven through any recognizable form of due process. Who and what we believe about it is a creation of our ideological leanings, our personal experiences and our biases. But what this mad moment reveals in stark clarity is what drives a game of thrones: naked, consuming lust for power.

The Republican majority was determined to ram through this nomination, even on the barest of partisan margins. They were in a position to do so because, in 2013, Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stripped away protections of Senate minority prerogative by invoking the "nuclear option" and jettisoning the filibuster (which requires 60 votes instead of 51) in order to get his party's nominees confirmed. Reid's move excluded Supreme Court nominees, but it opened the door to expansion, and the Republicans walked through.

Under the old rules, Kavanaugh, with a record as a partisan operative as well as an apparently fair and independent federal judge, might well never have been nominated, much less confirmed.

In 2016, Republicans determinedly - in the case of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, gleefully - blocked even hearing President Obama's nomination of the obviously qualified Merrick Garland.

In 2018, Sen. Diane Feinstein sat on Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's accusation of high school sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh for weeks, before deploying the accusation like a Claymore mine in the last ditch. Whatever the merits of Dr. Ford's accusation, it has been used by the Democrat minority not in an effort to determine truth and to "advise and consent" - but as a tactic to derail through lurid political theater a confirmation they could not otherwise stop.

Winning power by any means necessary does not serve the long-term health of the Republic.

The abrogation of constraint on power and the erosion of due process have been incrementally wearing at our foundations for decades. All our institutions are now tottering. In this game of thrones, no matter who wins, the Republic dies.