Mitch McConnell named 'most consequential politician of the decade' for all the worst reasons
The Week news magazine has named Senate Majority Leader Moscow Mitch McConnell the decade's most consequential politician, over Barack Obama, the nation's first African American president, and Donald Trump, the nation's most problematic president ever. "McConnell was smashing norms and precedents in the Senate even before Trump arrived in Washington, D.C. In the case of Trump's major accomplishments—cutting taxes and transforming the American judiciary—McConnell probably deserves the lion's share of the credit," writes Joel Mathis.
It started with McConnell's refusal—in the minority—to do anything to give Obama a win, making Republicans the "party of no" and relishing it. The rationale that Republicans will say out loud is that they figured any lack of progress would be blamed on Obama. The impetus lying behind that was clear during Obama's presidency for anyone paying attention, but has been made abundantly clear by the white supremacist Republicans elected to the White House. They didn't want the nation's first black president to succeed and would exploit the ever-simmering racism in the GOP to regain their majority. It worked.
That included manipulating Senate rules to block Obama judiciary nominees, including Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, for McConnell's most consequential achievement. That's been remaking the federal judiciary for at least a generation with young, far-right extremist judges, a record number of them, in fact. And another record number of them who have been deemed unqualified for the lifetime seats by the nonpartisan American Bar Association. Qualifications be damned—McConnell is on a mission, saying, "And by appointing and confirming these strict constructionists to the courts who are in their late 40s or early 50s, I believe working in conjunction with the administration, we're making a generational change in our country that will be repeated over and over and over down through the years."
The third most consequential thing he's done, Mathis says, is to turn a blind eye to foreign interference in our elections. He's all but invited malign foreign influence in the very heart of our democracy. He refused to give his assent to the Obama administration to inform the public about Russian meddling ahead of the 2016 election, instead threatening all-out partisan warfare that could have made the situation even more precarious. Now McConnell is refusing to act on legislation that would help secure the next election. If Putin's help is what it takes for Republicans to keep the White House and Senate, McConnell's going to invite it.
In so many ways, regaining the Senate and getting McConnell out of power are even more important than defeating Trump. The future health of the nation requires a restored Senate, one that won't collude with a rogue president to destroy it all.