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And the award for ‘most dangerous politician in my lifetime’ goes to …

Robert Reich, professor of public policy | December 3, 2019

He’s maybe the most dangerous politician of my lifetime. He’s helped transform the Republican Party into a cult, worshiping at the altar of authoritarianism. He’s damaged our country in ways that may take a generation to undo. The politician I’m talking about, of course, is Mitch McConnell.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellTwo goals for November 3, 2020: The first and most obvious is to get the worst president in history out of the White House. That’s necessary but not sufficient. We also have to flip the Senate and remove the worst Senate Majority Leader in history.

Like Trump, Mitch McConnell is no garden-variety bad public official. McConnell puts party above America, and Trump above party. Even if Trump is gone, if the Senate remains in Republican hands and McConnell is reelected, America loses because McConnell will still have a chokehold on our democracy.

This is the man who refused for almost a year to allow the Senate to consider President Obama’s moderate Supreme Court pick, Merrick Garland.

And then, when Trump became president, this is the man who got rid of the age-old Senate rule requiring 60 Senators to agree on a Supreme Court nomination so he could ram through not one but two Supreme Court justices, including one with a likely history of sexual assault.

This is the man who rushed through the Senate, without a single hearing, a $2 trillion tax cut for big corporations and wealthy Americans – a tax cut that raised the government debt by almost the same amount, generated no new investment, failed to raise wages, but gave the stock market a temporary sugar high because most corporations used the tax savings to buy back their own shares of stock.

McConnell refuses to support what’s needed for comprehensive election security – although both the U.S. intelligence community and Special Prosecutor Mueller say Moscow is continuing to hack into our voting machines and to weaponize disinformation through social media.

McConnell has earned the nickname “Moscow Mitch” because he’s doing exactly what Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump want him to do – leave America vulnerable to another Putin-supported victory for Trump.

McConnell is also blocking bipartisan background-check legislation for gun sales, even after the mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, El Paso and Odessa, Texas.

So even if Trump is out of the White House, if McConnell remains Senate Majority Leader he will not allow a Democratic president to govern.

He won’t allow debate or votes on Medicare for All, universal pre-K, a wealth tax, student loan forgiveness, or the Green New Deal. He won’t allow confirmation votes on judges nominated by a Democratic president.

The good news is McConnell is the least popular senator in the country with his own constituents. He’s repeatedly sacrificed Kentucky to Trump’s agenda – for example, agreeing to Trump’s so-called emergency funding for a border wall, which would take $63 million away from projects like a new middle school on the border between Kentucky and Tennessee.

McConnell is even cut funding for black lung disease suffered by Kentucky coal miners. I know from my years as labor secretary that coal mining is one of the most dangerous jobs in the country, and the number of cases of incurable black lung disease has been on the rise. But when a group of miners took a 10-hour bus ride to Washington this past summer to ask McConnell to restore the funding, McConnell met with them for one minute and then refused to help them. No wonder Democrats are lining up in Kentucky to run against Moscow Mitch in 2020.

The not-so-good news is that McConnell is up for re-election the same day as Donald Trump, and Trump did well in Kentucky in 2016. Which means we have to help organize Kentucky, just as we have to organize other states that may not be swing states in the presidential election but could take back the Senate.

Consider Georgia: Republican Senator Johnny Isakson is retiring, meaning both of Georgia’s Senate seats are now up for grabs. And this one extra seat—in a state that is trending blue—could be the tipping point that allows Democrats to win enough seats to end GOP control of the Senate.

Trump has to go, but so does McConnell.

Here’s what you can do: Wherever you are in the country, you can donate to McConnell’s challengers. If you live in or near Kentucky, you can get out and knock doors or make calls. Or if you have friends or family in the state, encourage them to get involved.

As to the question of who is worse, Trump or McConnell — the answer is that it’s too close to call. The two of them have degraded and corrupted American democracy. We need them both out.

Cross-posted from Robert Reich’s blog.

Comments to “And the award for ‘most dangerous politician in my lifetime’ goes to …

  1. Dear Professor Reich,
    I think you have one thing wrong here. The damage he has wrought will take more than one generation to fix, if it can be fixed. I say this because of the impact on the judiciary and who has been able to be appointed and approved into lengthy and sometimes lifetime positions. First the Senate Republicans dragged their feet and would not vet for some positions – leaving many positions open for a long time. That was going on before the present president was voted in. Now they seem to churn out those approvals like an assembly line often for people even us lay people would consider unqualified!

  2. The amazing thing is that two anti-democracy fanatics like them are allowed to lead our country so far away from the democracy our founding fathers thought they were producing and protecting in perpetuity.

    The tragedy is that, since our founding fathers thought they had produced a perpetual democracy at last after so many civilizations had failed up to that point, millions of heroes and patriots have sacrificed their lives to protecting us from having these two dictators destroy the republican party and threaten to end our democracy in 2020.

    It really looks like McConnell is not giving up on winning the Civil War that almost destroyed our democracy the last time.

    Isn’t it bad enough that global warming is already an overwhelming threat to our entire civilization that we continue to fail to produce an acceptable quality of life legacy for our newest generations while we are fighting to protect our democracy at the same time?

    Is there anything you and your academic colleagues can do in time to overcome the overthrow of our democracy by Putin Puppets like Trump and McConnell because what we have done so far isn’t working?

    Will and Ariel Durant produced one of the best history educations and we appear to are failing to learn from their lessons of history once again.

  3. So true! This country needs to stop these madmen and their cult followers. It is so disappointing to me that so many of our countrymen are so easily led by conspiracy theory and the lies that are obviously lies. I hope that the reasonably minded people, Independent, Democrat or Republican, outnumber these individuals at election time and that our current potus group is stopped before they can do more damage to our great country!

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