Kathy and I sometimes engage in a fun little thought experiment, something akin to “Batman vs. Spiderman – who wins?”, though a little more bitter, which asks “Who is the very worst Republican?”. Neither of us feels it’s the obvious one. When we first had at it, a couple of years back, it always came down to Paul Ryan vs. Mitch McConnell, and I don’t think either of us was ever able to make a definitive pick. Each had his strengths. Mitch was a vile, leathery old tool of the donor class, good for nothing except obstruction, without a single positive achievement to tout in an entire life of holding office, but Ryan – Ryan was a smiley-faced little shit of a hypocritical Ayn Rand worshiper, a smooth-cheeked poodle of the monied elites, good for nothing on account of terminal fecklessness, with lots of cruel ideas buttressed by numbers that didn’t add up.
How to pick?
With Ryan gone, there’s really only the one possibility (unless the game is “Worst Republican of All Time“, in which case you have to consider worthies like Dick Nixon, Joe McCarthy, demonic wedge-meister Lee Atwater and his pig-eyed disciple Karl Rove, and “Contract With America” wrecking ball Newt Gingrich; and if by “worst” you mean “worst human being” as opposed to “most corrosive to the common good”, then you’ve got to expand the roster to include the likes of child sex abuser Dennis Hastert, and faux-pious Bible tyrants like Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, not to mention a rogue’s gallery of assorted Governors and Trump cabinet appointees too well populated to discuss within the confines of a modest blog post). I know, I know, you’re thinking “but what about Lindsey Graham?”, “hey how about Chuck Grassley?”, “not Orrin Hatch?”, and of course “be serious – you think there’s somebody worse than Ted Cruz?” etc., and look, we can argue about this all day, there are things about which reasonable people disagree yada yada yada, but folks, it’s Mitch. MITCH. Mitch all the way. Mitch today, and arguably Mitch for all time.
Now, I’ve railed against Mitch repeatedly in this space, well past the point of being tiresome, I know, but cut me some slack, am I supposed to shut up and smile quietly to myself when damned near every frigging day he does something awful to demonstrate how much of a morally bankrupt, miserable old servant of the Koch Brothers he truly is? Eh? What’s a faux pundit to do? Move on? Let it go? How, I ask you? A decent, properly motivated sort of bloggicist could never sit still for Mitch’s many sins against the Republic, not short of descending into a deep, depressive state of no longer giving a flyer about anything. To paraphrase Samuel Johnson, to be tired of vilifying Mitch is to be tired of life.
It’s really rather awesome in its way, the metronomic regularity with which his cowardly, venal affronts to human decency and the health of American democracy just keep coming, day after day, tick, tick, tick. You never have to dig as far back as a month ago, or even a week, no, with Mitch it’s usually a matter of remembering what happened yesterday, or even just this morning. Look, I haven’t checked today, but it was indeed just yesterday when the foul old obstructionist offered up yet another performance for the ages, this time in blocking a Democratic Bill that seeks to make it easier for ordinary people to vote in federal elections.
Actually, H.R.1, the first draft legislation to emerge out of Pelosi’s House of Representatives, would do a great deal more than that. The Bill is a doomed but beautifully ambitious stab at fixing all sorts of things that have gone wrong with America’s democracy. A large part of it would address corruption in campaign finance, in an attempt to undermine the PACS and SuperPACS that slosh so much dark money around Washington. It would also bring in ethical reforms, for example to prohibit such dubious practices as the use by legislators of taxpayer funds to settle their all too numerous sexual harassment claims. To prevent future Trumps from hiding their shady financial affairs, it would require candidates for President and Vice President to disclose ten years’ worth of tax returns. On these scores alone the thing is fit to drive Mitch and his ilk to conniption fits.
It’s on top of all that, God save the GOP, that it slathers measures to restore the voting rights that Republicans have been busy savaging for the past 20-30 years. As summarized at Vox.com, H.R. 1 includes provisions to:
- Create new national automatic voter registration that asks voters to opt out, rather than opt in, ensuring more people will be signed up to vote. Early voting, same-day voter registration, and online voter registration would also be promoted.
- Make Election Day a holiday for federal employees and encourage private sector businesses to do the same, requiring poll workers to provide a week’s notice if poll sites are changed, and making colleges and universities a voter registration agency (in addition to the DMV, etc), among other updates.
- End partisan gerrymandering in federal elections and prohibit voter roll purging. The bill would stop the use of non-forwardable mail being used as a way to remove voters from rolls.
- Beef up elections security, including requiring the director of national intelligence to do regular checks on foreign threats.
- Recruit and train more poll workers ahead of the 2020 election to cut down on long lines at the polls. Vox.com
Good Lord! The grand old elephant swoons! Pass the smelling salts! Why, such a thing could undo years and years of diligent Republican effort to disenfranchise anybody who isn’t white! It amounts to nothing less than a brazen assault upon Project REDMAP itself! Land o’Goshen! No good Republican could abide such apostasy for even a moment.
So Mitch stood tall in the well of the Senate yesterday, all full of righteous fury, and declared not on my watch. He was particularly upset by the effort to make election day a holiday, realizing in his canny way that this alone might enable millions of extra wage slaves and assorted working slobs to cast their ballots. We all know who they’ll vote for, too, don’t we? I guess I can’t do better on this than Chris Hayes, speaking last night on MSNBC:
IT’S A POWER GRAB!!!!!
Yes, Mitch, you wrinkly bag of bought-and-paid-for bones, such bones as there are (the spine of course being missing), it sure as shit is.
It’s actually funny to watch Mitch decry a measure that might free Federal workers to go help Democrats. He actually puts it that way. As the “constitutional peasant” said to King Arthur in Python’s epic of the Holy Grail, oh what a giveaway. Mitch is hollering out loud the things that Republicans are supposed to utter sotto voce, if at all, and only among themselves: if everybody gets to vote as if the United States is a genuine democracy, the Republican Party is finished. This is the GOP’s deepest fear, and it’s well founded. Even with the anti-democratic structures baked right into the Constitution, like the Electoral College, and the apportionment of two Senate seats per State regardless of population, if the unwashed, unsuppressed masses get to vote within districts that haven’t been gerrymandered to within an inch of cartographic plausibility, the GOP, as presently constituted, will be wiped off the face of the earth. The Republican Party represents a shrinking minority, and would never prevail in a fair fight. This is why the Republicans cheat, again and again, at all levels of government.
Mitch can stand there fulminating, a human cork in the bottle of legislative progress, just as much as he pleases. Let him. His constant on-camera opposition to natural justice will serve as a useful reminder to future generations of America’s lily-white antediluvian past. How else will they know? Mitch and his kind will be but a distant memory, because he, his party, and everything he stands for are doomed in the long run, and I’m betting not so long.
Maybe as soon as 2020, actually, for Mitch and a great many more.