Mitch McConnell has been so loathed for so long that it’s hard to remember all the reasons why he is one of the lowest polling members of Congress.
The longtime senior Senator from Kentucky has served in the Senate since 1985 and has wielded considerable political power for some time. As early as 1994, McConnell was called out for his tactics in a campaign finance battle by then Speaker of the House Tom Foley (D) as “the worst case of obstruction by filibuster by any party that I’ve ever seen in my 30 years in Congress.” Source
Perhaps the best way to understand McConnell is to take a peek at the room which holds his archives as his alma mater, the University of Louisville. It doesn’t highlight any legislative or governing accomplishments, how he’s helped people, or stirring speeches he’s delivered; instead, it is a shrine to “winning elections and rising in the leadership ranks, achieving power for power’s sake.” McConnell only cares about these two things–winning elections and building power–and is unconcerned about policy.
And when those are your only goals, the pursuit of them leaves victims. The primary victim has been American democracy.
Here are 21 reasons McConnell needs to go, sprinkled with editorial cartoons from the brilliant Ann Telnaes:
1 Mitch McConnell likes to call himself the “Grim Reaper,” in that he sees it as his job to kill any legislation that comes from the Democratic-controlled House. McConnell is demonstrating that he has no policy goals but instead is obstructing for obstruction’s sake. Source
2 Although Mitch McConnell had briefly supported campaign finance reform at the start of his career, he reversed his position quickly. He explained why after he won his first term in the Senate in 1984 saying, “I never would have been able to win my race if there had been a limit on the amount of money I could raise and spend.” Source
3 McConnell settled on his election strategy early: “His great epiphany early on was that he could overcome this deficiency [lacking political charisma] by raising gobs and gobs of money, and then using that money to [run] ads that would simply tear down the opponent.” Source
4 Mitch McConnell has been on a career-long crusade to extinguish any attempt to achieve campaign finance reform. Even when the Supreme Court ruled to eliminate limits on campaign spending, McConnell went one step further and blocked legislation to force the disclosure of the names of donors. Source
5 Mitch McConnell refused to work with the Obama administration to publicly condemn Russia for election interference during the 2016 election. The refusal to do so meant that the American public was not informed about the foreign interference before they went to the ballot box. Source
6 When Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away during President Obama’s second term, Mitch McConnell conjured the ridiculous excuse that Supreme Court vacancies shouldn’t be filled in an election year, and refused to allow Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, a single hearing. The unprecedented obstruction succeeded in leaving the seat open for almost a year, and is generally considered to be one of the factors that turned out Republicans to vote for Trump in the 2016 election. Source
7 When asked about whether or not he’d confirm a Supreme Court seat if one came open during the next presidential election year, McConnell responded, “Oh, we’d fill it.” Source
8 As Senate Majority Leader, it is Mitch McConnell’s job to bring legislation to the floor of the Senate to discuss and vote on. However, in the spring of 2019, the Senate went a full 3 months without taking “yeas and nays” on a genuine, full-fledged bill. Source
9 Instead of legislating, (one of the Senate’s key functions), Mitch McConnell has turned the chamber into a conveyor belt to confirm judges. Instead of being concerned with vetting the judges carefully, he changed the rules so that instead of debating judges for 30 hours apiece, they now only debate for two. Source
10 Mitch McConnell also killed the longstanding “blue slip” tradition which allowed Senators from the same state as the judge being considered to essentially veto their nomination. Source
11 Mitch McConnell’s tactics have allowed Trump to confirm almost 20% of the federal Circuit judges that exist. Source
12 His mad dash to confirm Trump’s judicial nominees is in stark contrast to the years he was the Senate Majority Leader under President Obama. During that time, he only confirmed one-fourth of Obama’s picks. Source
13 Mitch McConnell is indifferent to racial justice. He made “claims that ‘none of us currently living are responsible for slavery’ and shrugs off solutions to amend racial inequity because ‘we elected an African American president.'” Source
14 Mitch McConnell has made a mockery of ethics rules by partnering with his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, to secure $78 million worth of grants for projects in Kentucky favored by McConnell’s political allies. Source
15 If it’s an election year for Mitch McConnell (as it is in 2020), he cannot be counted on to take a stand on any issue he thinks might hurt him. To wit: “Immigration, in 2006 and 2007, McConnell [then the leader] completely ducked out of the debate and did not even speak on the floor. He was just a nonentity and ceded his leadership role, essentially, because of how worried he was about how it would affect his 2008 reelection.” Source
16 McConnell is single-handedly obstructing the Federal Election Commission (FEC) from doing its job. Since becoming Majority Leader he has not held a single hearing for nominees to the 6-person board and so as commissioners leave the FEC, they are not being replaced. Recently, they lost their quorum of 4 people and not legally cannot enforce any elections laws until they add more commissioners. Source
17 Mitch McConnell forced the passage of the Tax Cuts bill in 2017 in the most irresponsible way, holding no public hearings for the bill at all, and allowing handwritten edits to the bill mere hours before the final vote. Consequently, the American public had little information to consider the bill and even the Senators and House members (on both sides of the aisle) were in the dark. We did not send representatives to Congress to have legislation jammed down their throats with no deliberation. Source
18 McConnell demonstrated a similar lack of transparency around the 2017 effort to repeal Obamacare. He named a group of 13 Republican Senators to draft the Senate’s substitute version in private, raising bipartisan concerns about the process. Source
19 Mitch McConnell simply doesn’t care about what the Senate accomplishes, which is utterly disqualifying. “Being a Senate majority leader who doesn’t care about almost any particular outcome to any particular political issue not directly related to making sure your funders can fund you actually seems to take quite a bit of pressure off, job performance–wise.” Source
20 He also doesn’t care about the citizens in his own state. In only one example, a group of retired coal miners from Kentucky came to visit Mitch McConnell in Washington, D.C. to ask him to reinstate the tax that funded the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund to fight the disease that had put at least a few of them in wheelchairs. McConnell gave the group 2 minutes of his time and didn’t commit to doing anything. Source
21 Mitch McConnell’s own longtime adviser, J. Scott Jennings, has described McConnell as “the principal enabler of the Trump agenda.” That is, of course, not remotely close to what the job of the Majority Leader of the Senate is. Source
Harry Reid, who served as the Democrats’ leader in the Senate while McConnell was the Majority Leader, and so fully comprehends how McConnell operates, said, “I believe that Mitch McConnell has ruined the Senate. I do not believe the Senate, for the next generation or two, will be the Senate I was there for. It’s gone. The old Senate is gone.”
It is high time Mitch McConnell to go.
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