Kentuckians are poised to re-elect Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. But as a Kentuckian myself, I wonder: What are they thinking? Surely they know how dysfunctional Congress is, but maybe not McConnell’s role in making it that way. The presidential race has sucked the focus away from this key race. But to be frank: Whether or not you dump Trump, if you keep McConnell—you’re screwed. Here’s what you can expect:
1) Dereliction of Duty
After Obama’s election, McConnell met with key leaders to craft a manifesto to obstruct Democrat-led legislation: Just say NO. GOP senators were instructed to say NO to cooperation and compromise, and Democratic senators were told not to bother negotiating. So other than ramming through a record number of often unqualified judicial appointments, little legislation has been accomplished in McConnell’s Senate.
The House, on the other hand, has done its job and pumped out hundreds of bipartisan bills. But when legislation reached the Senate, McConnell refused to allow debate and vote. Thus, hundreds of congressmen and women can’t do the job they were elected to do because of McConnell.
Unfortunately, the bills that died in Mitch’s legislative graveyard would positively impact everyday citizens’ lives, covering every imaginable issue from healthcare to environmental protections, civil to veterans’ rights. Un-passed legislation has caused a negative trickle-down effect: McConnell has refused to hear legislation to secure our elections from foreign interference, to prevent the corrupting influence of gerrymandering and money on elections, and to thwart government corruption—all of which we are seeing at unprecedented levels. He stalled Covid Relief, increasing the minimum wage, and family leave, which would have cushioned family economics during the pandemic. He refused legislation to create Internet affordability and infrastructure, leaving hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians without reliable access during remote learning and working.
2) Dismantling Democracy
"Let's return to Regular Order," Republican Senator John McCain said in 2017. "We've been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle.” What’s Regular Order? A collaborative, bipartisan approach to creating legislation. Subcommittees with members from both parties hammer out the details of bills before they are sent to committee chairs. There is transparency, oversight, public input, and collaboration between chambers. A few tweaks, chamber votes, and bills are on the President’s desk for signatures.
Okay, it’s not always that simple. But research shows that not only does Congress get more done with Regular Order but also that R.O. was largely squelched once Obama was elected, i.e., when McConnell became the King of Obstruction. Now, partisan task forces meet behind closed doors to craft legislation without input and collaboration; no wonder why opposition balks.
But there’s a more nefarious consequence: When presidents are faced with an unproductive, deadlocked Congress, they fill the void with Executive Orders, which lead to lawsuits—which rely upon courts to resolve disputes. And therein lies another trickle-down effect: Instead of passing legislation, McConnell has filled the courts with justices he believes will vote his way, which leads to “activist judges” legislating from the bench.
On the rare occasion that legislation IS brought to the Senate floor, senators are expected to vote in lock-step with McConnell, or they’ll be punished with cancellation of diplomatic missions, removal from select committees, or cessation of capitol privileges. Thus, democracy dies under dictator McConnell’s thumb.
Concurrently, the President has consolidated power through corruption, cronyism, and dismantling of democratic institutions, like the Inspectors General. But McConnell has enabled Trump by suppressing Congress’s role as a check & balance to the Executive Branch.
A particularly corrosive effect on the democratic process has come from McConnell’s use of propaganda language and techniques. Certainly, he didn’t invent the practice; but he fully embraces Newt Gingrich’s 1990 playbook, “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control,” wherein GOP politicians are directed to use pejorative language to demonize opponents, like radical, leftist, liberal, job-killing, failure, traitor, etc. He regularly weaponizes “Pelosi” and “Schumer.” His campaign ads resort to fear mongering and false narratives, with montages of war-like video clips of rioters and looters during BLM protests—ludicrously blaming his opponent, Amy McGrath, for supporting this and dismissing the peaceful protestors who were maimed and gassed by militarized peace officers. And McConnell regularly engages in “projection”: accusing Democrats of his own sins, like stalling legislation.
How can Republicans expect Democrats to come to the negotiation table with a spirit of collaboration, when they have been maligned in the public arena?
3) Skewed Priorities
McConnell has been consistent. His words and deeds indicate one thing: His goal is Power. In a 2019 NPR report, Kelly McEvers remarked that the recurring theme from multiple interviews with McConnell was “winning.” Not improving people’s lives.
McConnell’s ethical delinquency was epitomized by his refusal to hold hearings for a SCOTUS nominee ELEVEN months before the 2016 presidential election—but his equivocation on rushing through an appointment ONE month before the 2020 election. Definitely not an emissary of Trust.
Speaking of Trust, McConnell has been nicknamed Moscow Mitch, not just because of his unwillingness to pass legislation to prevent Russian election interference, nor even his refusal to hear evidence of Trump’s ties to Russia during the impeachment trials. McConnell pushed to remove sanctions on Russia for meddling in the 2016 election; he accepted millions in campaign donations from Russian oligarchs—then rewarded one of them with a contract for a multi-million-dollar aluminum plant in Kentucky.
After 36 years with Mitch, how is Kentucky doing? The Brent-Spence Bridge, the main connector for Ohio and Kentucky which sees 150,000 trucks and cars per day, has been labeled “functionally obsolete,” yet Mitch—and Trump—have not secured funding for its replacement.
Kentucky's environment, economy, and public health are inextricably linked. Once a booming coal producer, Kentucky has experienced a steady decline in employment in this dying industry over the past 30 years. Coal production is dirty, unhealthy, unsightly, and toxic for the environment—and thus for people in contact with its byproducts.
In the year 2000, Massey Energy was responsible for a catastrophic environmental disaster, a massive coal slurry spill in Martin County which contaminated waterways and drinking water with chemicals including arsenic and mercury and killed wildlife. At the time, McConnell’s wife Elaine Chao was named Bush’s Labor Secretary, giving her authority over the Mine Safety and Health Administration. The day of Bush’s inauguration, the investigation into the disaster was terminated; Massey paid a miniscule fine—but made a huge donation to the GOP and would continue to do so over the decades. Jack Spadaro, investigator for the MHSA at the time, remarked, “[McConnell’s] truly the most corrupt politician in the U.S.”
Twenty years later, there is still unfinished cleanup and unsafe tap water. McConnell took the money and protected the coal company from paying penalties that would help with environmental reparations.
Meanwhile, Kentucky’s job market ranks 43, and its current “innovation potential” ranks 46. But incongruous with that is the fact that renewable energy is one of the fastest growing industries nationwide, employing 3 times the number of workers as the fossil-fuel industry—often with better paying jobs. Investment in clean energy would create infrastructure projects, production of industry materials, and partnerships with educational institutions. A progressive leader (not McConnell) would recognize the economic innovation potential. But . . . here we come full circle, back to that pesky legislative morgue: There are bills which would direct billions toward coal-site cleanup, water and clean-energy infrastructure, job retraining, and community development—if indeed those were McConnell’s priorities.
So, there you have it: McConnell’s loyalties lie with his party, donors, lobbyists, and Trump—not Kentuckians nor Americans. America’s fragile democracy can’t afford 6 more years with McConnell. If you can support him after reading this, then there’s not much hope for truth, justice, and fair play in a democratic society.
May the American experiment rest in peace.
1) Support the National Popular Vote movement for presidential elections.
It does NOT remove the Electoral College, which is part of the Constitution. Instead, it gives each state’s Electoral College votes to the winner of the national popular vote.
According to the Constitution, each state determines how electoral votes will be apportioned between candidates. In the 1800s, every state passed winner-take-all legislation, giving all of their electoral votes to the candidate receiving the most votes in their state. But as we have seen in 4 elections, the winner of the most votes in the state might not be the winner of the most votes in the country; thus, the winner of the electoral college votes might not be the winner of the national popular vote.
This system has inadvertently created red, blue, and “swing” states (which could swing toward either party). A Republican voting in a blue (Democratic) state feels like their vote doesn’t count, because all electoral votes will go to the opposite party. Plus, a person’s vote in a small state may count 4 times as much as a person’s vote in a large state. More important, about a dozen “swing states” have enormous power in determining the outcome of elections. Fortunately, several state legislatures have changed how they apportion their electoral votes.
Here's why this is important to Kentucky:
Not only do many Kentucky voters justifiably feel like their votes don’t count, but research shows that often SWING states (NOT Kentucky) receive more federal funding! That puts Kentucky at an unfair financial disadvantage for fixing its systemic economic, education, environmental, and health problems. The NPV campaign would eliminate red/blue/swing states.
2) There are two ways to get rid of Mitch McConnell:
1) Vote him out, and support opponent Amy McGrath.
2) Demote him from Senate Majority Leader by electing more Democratic Senators.
In either case, that requires spreading accurate information and turning out the vote!
Share the article above as well as this comprehensive essay written by a prominent Republican, Mary Woodward, who worked for 32 years in the Legislative and Executive Branches:
“He has gradually disassembled legislative civility and if he remains in power for six more years, he may permanently damage the upper chamber and bipartisan cooperation. Senator McConnell personifies bad government. Instead of proactive leadership, he obstructs, stalls, intimidates and smugly boasts about being the undertaker for legislation forwarding a Democratic agenda, regardless of any benefit to his constituents.”
If you have trouble getting through the paywall to read this, shoot us an e-mail from the Contact Form on the About page, and we will send you the Full Text.
3) Share this information with a young person—and encourage them to VOTE!