It isn’t just Trump who is killing democracy in America; it’s the combination of Trump in the White House and Mitch McConnell as Senate majority leader that’s killing democracy in America. Nothing, absolutely nothing, good can be accomplished now, including things that a majority of Senate Republicans might support.
Nancy LeTourneau describes McConnell’s Legislative Graveyard:
… he has blocked efforts to limit dark money in politics, net neutrality, background checks for all gun purchases, protections for Dreamers, paycheck fairness, and the Violence Against Women Act. We can now add that he is blocking attempts to protect our elections from foreign interference.
That last one, I think, would pass in the Senate fairly easily. But Mitch won’t allow it to come up for a vote. See Jamelle Bouie:
Why won’t Mitch McConnell protect our elections from outside interference?
His Republican colleagues in the Senate want to do something. That’s why some of the most conservative members of his caucus are working with Democrats to improve the nation’s election security.
One proposal, according to The New York Times, would “require internet companies like Facebook to disclose the purchasers of political ads.” Another, devised by Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, would “impose mandatory sanctions on anyone who attacks an American election.” Yet another, the brainchild of Senators James Lankford of Oklahoma and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, would “codify cyber information-sharing initiatives between federal intelligence services and state election officials.”
House Democrats have already introduced legislation to bolster election security and would most likely work with the Senate to put together a compromise proposal should a bill pass that chamber. But McConnell refuses to consider any legislation on election security during this congressional term. For the Senate majority leader, the problem has already been solved, and this rare show of bipartisan cooperation doesn’t matter. “I think the majority leader is of the view that this debate reaches no conclusion,” Roy Blunt of Missouri, a McConnell ally, said.
It’s safe to assume he’s protecting Trump, but Bouie points out that McConnell has a long history of being “a tireless opponent of openness, accessibility and transparency in elections.” For years he has been driven entirely by what might help or hurt the GOP. And there’s also the little matter of the Russian oligarch who plans to invest about $200 million in Kentucky. Entirely unrelated to Mitch’s blocking of the security measures, I’m sure.
It’s also being said that even if Dems take the White House and keep the House in 2020, the odds of Dems taking the Senate are pretty damn long. So Mitch will still be there, putting a stop to anything good and useful Democrats might like to do.
But wait, what? Mitch is up for re-election in 2020? And his approval rating has been underwater for quite some time? He’s currently down 14 points — 36 percent of Kentucky voters approve of Mitch, while 50 percent disapprove.
Now, I have no experience as a political strategist, but even I can see that unseating Mitch ought to be a top priority for the Democratic Party. But, so far, I can’t tell that it is.
Part of the problem is that the Democratic bench in Kentucky is, um, weak. All the more reason to get an early start.
An outside group called Ditch Mitch is raising money to defeat McConnell. News stories say that Ditch Mitch and also Chuck Schumer are trying to recruit Amy McGrath, a former Marine pilot who lost a House race to an incumbent in 2018. A sports radio host named Matt Jones is also being talked up as a potential McConnell opponent. There is one declared Dem candidate for the seat named Stephen Cox, about whom I know nothing except that his old dad needs dentures. Yeah, that’s how weak the bench is.
On the plus side, a former state representative named C. Wesley Morgan, a Richmond liquor store owner, has announced he will primary Mitch. Morgan lost his seat in the legislature in 2018, which makes me suspect he’s a long shot.
And I haven’t gotten to the part about his his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, has been enabling grant money to flow to projects McConnell wants to fund. Welcome to the Banana Republic of America.