Mitch McConnell is telling us exactly who he is, and too many Democrats are refusing to listen. Asked today by conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt whether he would confirm a Supreme Court nominee in 2024 should Republicans reclaim the majority, he said, “I think it’s highly unlikely.” McConnell then refused to comment one way or the other on whether he’d confirm Joe Biden’s hypothetical nominee in 2023.
In the same interview, McConnell pledged to intervene in Republican primaries to tilt the scales in favor of the most electable candidate. “Hopefully we won’t have to intervene, but if we do, we will,” McConnell promised. Notably, he did not take a moral stand against Trumpism and the “big lie.”
Few should be surprised by all of this. McConnell is the man who shamelessly created a new rule to deny Obama a Supreme Court nominee in 2016, and then changed the rules again to guarantee Trump a nominee in 2020. And why would he publicly criticize the big lie? Following the January 6 insurrection, McConnell warned that overturning the election “by mere allegations from the losing side” would lead to “a scramble for power at any cost” every time the nation elected a president. Yet in his second impeachment trial, he voted against convicting Trump for his role in the insurrection. In other words, he wants to have Sansa’s lemon cake and eat it, too.
The Senator from Kentucky has made it clear time and again that he does not care about democracy, or bipartisanship, or working together for the American people. He only cares about advancing his own agenda, and he will do whatever it takes. “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” he said in 2010. Fast forward 11 years, and nothing has changed. “One-hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration,” he said earlier this year.
Credit where it is due: McConnell is one of our most skillful political tacticians. He knows when to speak up and when to stay quiet. He doggedly pursues power to the exclusion of everything else, and he’s not afraid to wield it when he gets it.
At least one Democrat recognizes that McConnell is exerting unearned influence — and that he will waste no time ignoring Democrats once he regains control of the Senate. “This romanticism of bipartisanship is about an era of Republicans that simply do not exist anymore,” Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said yesterday on CNN’s State of the Union. “It’s worth going it alone if we can do more for working people in this country,” she went on to argue, “…as opposed to 60 votes where we do very, very little and the scope of that is defined by a Republican minority that has not been elected to lead.”
Ocasio-Cortez has a clearer assessment of the situation than anybody on Capitol Hill. Republicans are not here to play nice — and trying to work with them as if they are could be a fatal mistake.
“Partisan policymaking won’t instill confidence in our democracy — it will destroy it,” warned West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin in an op-ed last week. Yet, from Georgia to Iowa to Arizona, state-level Republicans are passing laws to make it harder for people to vote. Crucially, these laws mostly affect people of color, who lean Democratic. This is no accident. Republicans know they cannot win, so they are rigging the system in their favor.
In other words, the GOP has made it clear they don’t intend to work with Democrats for the good of America. Why is the Biden administration still flogging a dead horse?