Over the past three years, I’ve spent an extensive amount of time and energy detailing why I disrespect and distrust Donald Trump and how I’m continually dismayed by his divisive words and dysfunctional deeds. But I’ve been saving my real vitriol for Mitch McConnell, whom I believe is the single worst thing to happen to American politics in a quarter of a century.
In my opinion, no one has done more to gum up and break our political system than McConnell. No one has prevented more meaningful legislation from getting to the floor. And worst of all, I can’t think of a single time, ever, when he has done anything in good faith and that’s a pretty tall order for a politician who’s been in office for over 30 years. Ironically, when he first became a senator, McConnell was known as a pragmatist and a moderate Republican. But over the years, he became more conservative, more tribal and moved to the Right because he decided that’s the best way to cling to power.
The way the Founding Fathers designed it, the Senate was intended to be the “cooling body,” of our legislative branch, with two senators from each state and elections every six years, instead of two. James Madison said it best: the House will derive its powers from the people; the Senate will get them from the states. As Senate Majority Leader, McConnell has subverted the traditions and frankly, the trust of the Senate. That’s appalling because the Senate has been a place of institution of comity for so many years and now, nothing gets done and its reputation has incurred serious damage.
The most glaring inertia is the election interference by Russia in the 2016 presidential election, and as testified to by our numerous national security agencies, the reality of more “cyber terrorism” in 2020. When McConnell refused to bring a bipartisan House bill to protect our election process to the Senate, the Washington Post then published an article titled Mitch McConnell is a Russian Asset and he was soon tagged with the moniker, “Moscow Mitch.”
An enraged McConnell then took to the Senate Floor and said “I was called unpatriotic, un-American and essentially treasonous by a couple of left-wing pundits on the basis of bold-faced lies,” and denouncing the “shameful” attacks as “modern-day McCarthyism.” But the real reason Moscow Mitch got under his skin so much is because many people are actually starting to think that his stonewalling is at best, unpatriotic.
Why is McConnell so firmly against protecting our elections from foreign powers? Well, for one, the president refuses to acknowledge Russian interference in 2016 and McConnell fears it would make the president again feel that his election wasn’t legitimate. But that’s the minor reason. The major one is that protecting our elections would likely result in more votes for Democrats and anything that reduces the chances of Republicans maintaining power will not be considered by McConnell, even if it means selling out his own country. And mirroring his own subservience, the Republican Party has capitulated to Donald Trump on this issue.
History has also shown that McConnell has zero concern about what people think about him. It’s part of his whole Machiavellian character, where he just can tune out criticism while he pulls the strings of government, with his favorite tactics being obstruction and obfuscation. He actually relishes the fact that people don’t like him and revels in being known as The Grim Reaper of the Senate. The harsh truth is that McConnell is a megalomaniac on a sole mission to control and maintain power.
There is a long list of issues stuck in McConnell Purgatory to support this argument. To name just a few: gun control (especially given the public outcry over mass shootings and a bipartisan gun regulation bill from the House), climate change, campaign finance and immigration reform. Throw in his refusing to condemn the president’s racist remarks and Trump’s not-so-tacit support of white supremacy. And this is the same GOP leader who said after Barack Obama was elected, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” No pretension of bipartisan legislative goals or agreement on important policy issues, just prevent any progress that could be attributed to Democrat leadership.
According to McConnell, his proudest moment in office has been to his refusal to allow a Senate hearing for Obama Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, when the president still had 11 months left in office. The nominating process for our highest court has traditionally been one of the few areas where there was still a bipartisan agreement that Republican presidents can nominate more conservative judges and Democratic presidents can nominate more liberal judges and as long as they’re qualified, they will be approved. Summing up his hypocrisy and hubris, when recently asked how he would handle a Supreme Court vacancy during the last 11 months of Trump’s term (the “not-enough-time” excuse he used to block Garland), McConnell quickly replied “Oh, we’d fill it.”
Finally, let’s look at McConnell’s own chances for re-election in 2020. Polls show that he has the highest disapproval rating of any senator in the country in his home state. In a recent Morning Consult poll, 36 percent of registered Kentucky voters approved of the job McConnell is doing, while 50 percent disapproved. But the fact is that McConnell is one of the biggest fundraisers in the Republican Party, he’s a wily political animal and he’s been campaigning around the state for 30 years. In all probability, he will likely win, although interestingly, money is being raised to plaster the state with Moscow Mitch billboards. I imagine that McConnell’s signature frown will be ever present when driving around Kentucky.
In a perfect world, nothing would be more karmic than for McConnell to lose his re-election bid. He’s not a leader; a leader comes through with creative ideas, bold initiatives, and solutions. He’s just been someone that knows how to wreak havoc on the system. One of the most prescient analyses I’ve seen of McConnell’s actions and inactions was by a Democratic pollster who said, “Mitch McConnell is a transcendent figure in American politics; he is a unifier. He unites everyone in hatred and animosity toward him, including Republicans.”
History will ultimately show that when his country needed him and it was time to be a true patriot, Mitch McConnell went MIA.