Editorial: For the good of the nation, it’s time to ditch Mitch

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 23. AP

Published: 8/1/2019 8:56:10 AM
Modified: 8/1/2019 8:55:59 AM

There may not be a less patriotic, less democratic, more cynical, shameless or hypocritical politician in America than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The Kentucky Republican’s offenses against democracy, fairness and tradition are the stuff of legend. McConnell may represent one state, but he has become a roadblock that prevents a functioning Congress. That makes him a national problem. He’s up for re-election in 2020. A national effort to end his abuses of power by ousting him from Congress deserves national support.

“Moscow Mitch,” as former Republican congressman and MSNBC commentator Joe Scarborough dubbed him weeks ago, is a master obstructionist. If a bill or a nominee for a federal position would benefit the country but aid Democrats, he will kill it. He will flash his rheumy-eyed, chinless grin and brag, as he did after refusing to hold a Senate confirmation vote on Merrick Garland, President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, that “the decision I made not to fill the Supreme Court vacancy when Justice Scalia died was the most consequential decision I’ve made in my entire public career.”

It’s a decision history will revile.

McConnell has blocked a string of election security bills designed to protect against further Russian meddling, the latest bills being the Securing America’s Federal Elections Act, which would require “durable, voter-verified paper ballots” in federal elections as a backup, and another that would require candidates for federal office to report to report federal contributions by foreign nationals to the FBI.

When asked at a press conference why he wouldn’t allow election security legislation to come up for a vote, McConnell smiled and said, “Because I get to decide what we vote on.” That’s far too much power for any one person.

Mere talk of election security angers President Trump because it raises questions about the legitimacy of his 2016 win. McConnell knows that. He also knows that special counsel Robert Mueller, in last week’s testimony before Congress, called Russian government interference in U.S. elections “among the most serious challenges to democracy” he has ever seen.

McConnell doesn’t care. He has always put self-preservation above principle or patriotism, a quality that led Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank to describe him as “a Russian asset.”

Kentucky is a deep-red state. Trump beat Hillary Clinton there by 30 points in 2016. Folks back home, however, aren’t big fans of McConnell, whose home-state approval is in the low 30% range, making him the least popular American senator.

McConnell will likely face a strong Democratic opponent; two potential challengers are former Marine lieutenant colonels. Ditch Mitch, a national effort to raise money for McConnell’s eventual opponent, is already underway.

McConnell’s opponent will be selected in Kentucky’s May 19, 2020, primary. Fair-minded voters in every state should help fund the effort to drain the swamp of the obstacle in chief, Mitch McConnell.

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