Mitch McConnell did more to destroy democracy than Donald Trump

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - MARCH 6, 2014: Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - MARCH 6, 2014: Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Photo: Shutterstock

With the announcement of his departure as the leader of the Senate Republicans, Mitch McConnell ends a 17-year reign as a leader of his party. It’s fitting that his career is coming to an end because McConnell has no future in a party dominated by Donald Trump because McConnell helped pave the way for much of the worst of Trump.

What McConnell has in common with Trump is a loyalty to power above all else. As Senate majority leader, McConnell’s first response to any situation was how it would affect his power – how could he protect it, how could he grow it. The most obvious examples were McConnell’s flagrant disregard for regular process in Supreme Court nominations.

He invented a spurious “tradition” of no Supreme Court confirmations within months of the election after Antonin Scalia died in February 2016 in hopes of preserving the seat for the Republican presidential nominee, and then shamelessly turned around and rushed through Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination less than two months before the 2020 election.

McConnell got the Court he wanted, but Trump got the credit for the appointments, not McConnell.

The rot caused by McConnell’s power plays was far deeper than just the Supreme Court. McConnell almost singlehandedly brought an end to the idea of bipartisanship in the Senate. He famously said in 2010, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” He attempted to do this by ensuring that no Republican would vote for any Democratic-supported bill because doing so would allow the measure to be called bipartisan.

Moreover, McConnell decided to grind the Senate to a halt. He wrapped himself in the language of Senate tradition as the great protector of the filibuster, which in fact he was abusing in ways no one ever anticipated. Thanks to McConnell, now the threshold for anything getting out of the Senate is 60 votes, because that’s the minimum needed to break a filibuster, which hangs as a perennial threat over all legislation.

As one example of just how much bad faith McConnell employed, one of the first bills he filibustered when Barack Obama became president was a bill to create national parks in multiple states. He was doing it solely as a display of power. What should have been a quick vote took three weeks to pass, a sign of the gridlock that characterized McConnell’s tenure. Nothing was too petty for McConnell.

Or too big that it shouldn’t take second place to McConnell’s interests to preserve power. When the Obama administration wanted to alert the press to Russian interference in the 2016 election, McConnell killed a strong bipartisan statement in the works because it would harm Trump and by extension Republican candidates. He threatened to tank the economy because Democrats would get the blame.

But worst of all, he refused to hold Trump accountable. McConnell had the power to send Trump into permanent exile after the January 6 insurrection, when even Republican Senators were so incensed by the violence of that day that they were ready to vote to convict him.

But McConnell chose the easy way out. He didn’t want to convict a Republican president because of the fallout it would have for the party. Instead, he calculated that Trump would just fade away ignominiously.

Big mistake.

Political scientist Norman Ornstein has said McConnell “will go down in history as one of the most significant people in destroying the fundamentals of our constitutional democracy… There isn’t anyone remotely close. There’s nobody as corrupt, in terms of violating the norms of government.”

In doing so, McConnell paved the way for the man he purports to hate: Donald Trump. It’s a fitting coda to a career motivated entirely by concern about ruling and disdain for rules.

Don't forget to share:

Support vital LGBTQ+ journalism

Reader contributions help keep LGBTQ Nation free, so that queer people get the news they need, with stories that mainstream media often leaves out. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated

Protestors interrupt a Moms for Liberty’s “fascist” book banning meeting

Previous article

Last stop for Redline: The gay bar is closing despite downtown LA optimism

Next article