It’s an old joke that Republicans aren’t too fond of government – or they want one small enough to drown in the bathtub. These things sometimes resonate with a few undecided voters who don’t think too deeply about the meanings, and help Republicans win the election when turnout is low. One longtime champion of this notion is current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Smaller government may sound like it means less corruption and more freedom, when it really means less oversight and less recourse for the vulnerable. People like McConnell realize that if elected, they can sabotage government from within – lining their own pockets and keeping voters under the impression that all politicians are crooked anyway.
McConnell, who has occupied the Senate since 1985, became notorious during the Obama administration for his tendency to obstruct nearly everything proposed by the former president, particularly the nomination of Merrick Garland. He suddenly became all about working together when Donald Trump took office, and chided his colleagues on the other side of the aisle for being too partisan. He’s no longer satisfied with lining his pockets – and is carefully looking to burn down the system entirely – and isn’t particularly shy about it either.
Even though he called any vote to re-open the government during the shutdown a pointless show vote that wouldn’t help the country, and blocked legislation on gun safety, domestic violence and even the release of the Mueller report, he called for a vote on the Green New Deal – which he knew had no chance of becoming law, but could be used by the GOP to paint their Democratic opponents as socialists. He was asked, on Fox News of all places, if this was one such show vote. He said yes, further defending it as a vote to demonstrate where the GOP stood on the issue.
The message is clearer than ever. Republicans are happy to play political chess and work hard at trying to get absolutely nothing accomplished – even at your peril. You may not agree with the Green New Deal, but by not so much as holding a hearing on it, Mitch makes it clear that his team doesn’t care about the national security risks due to natural disasters and mass migrations as areas become uninhabitable. McConnell faces re-election next year, and in many ways, his being reelected could be worse for democracy than the reelection of Donald Trump.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making