Starting his career in the Senate nearly thirty-five years ago and holding positions as the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Majority Whip, Senate Minority Leader, and now Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell is no stranger to political power. In the past three and a half decades, McConnell has used his power to champion the Republican Party’s preferences into policy; he has helped to keep relations warm with Saudi Arabia, the NRA, and the oil and gas industry, and his opposition to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act led to the ruling that government restrictions on campaign finances are unconstitutional. Recently, McConnell blocked a resolution that called for the Mueller report to be released to the public, called a proposal to make Election Day a federal holiday a “power grab”, and refused to hold a nomination hearing for Merrick Garland. All three of these actions show that McConnell’s only interest is the Republican Party’s domination over the Democratic Party, even if that means the degradation of democracy in America.
On March 25 of this year, a day after special counsel Robert Mueller submitted his investigation of Russian intervention in the 2016 election, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asked the Senate to pass a non-binding unanimous consent agreement to release Mueller’s report to the public. Schumer reasoned that “…there is no good reason not to make the report public. It’s a simple request for transparency.” One would assume that there would be bipartisan support for transparency of the report, especially if it would allow the Republican Party to prove once and for all that there was no collusion between Trump and the Russian government. This was not the case. Mitch McConnell immediately objected, stating that Mueller and the Justice Department need “a little time to complete their review in a professional and responsible manner.” However, as a Vox article points out, the unanimous agreement does not prevent the Justice Department from reviewing how to release information, nor does it set a deadline for when the information must be released. One must ask then, does McConnell have any solid ground to refuse to pass the non-binding unanimous agreement, or is it simply to oppose a Democrat-led proposal?
Perhaps less nuanced is McConnell’s response to the Democrat’s anti-corruption proposal, HR 1. HR 1 includes a proposal that would make Election Day a federal holiday, a measure that 54% of Americans support, as it would give people who normally cannot make it to polling places due to work the ability to vote. While addressing the Senate, McConnell stated, “Just what America needs…a bunch of government workers being paid to go out and work, I assume our colleagues on the other side, on their campaigns. This is the Democrat plan to restore democracy? …A power grab.” Several Democratic politicians responded on Twitter, including Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL), who tweeted that making Election Day a federal holiday would be a power grab, but it would be the people grabbing power back from the special interests in D.C.—not the Democratic Party attempting to seize all political power, as McConnell incorrectly believes.
Finally, there is Mitch McConnell’s refusal to hold a nomination hearing for former President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. Only an hour after the late-Justice Antonin Scalia’s death was confirmed, McConnell stated that “the Senate should not confirm a replacement for the Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia until after the 2016 election…” This move was an unprecedented action that very few in the White House saw coming, and it would be the first time in recent history that the Supreme Court had an open seat for over a year. McConnell tried to justify his refusal to hold a hearing for Garland by saying the voters should choose their next Justice and therefore it makes sense to wait until the next president was elected. But if McConnell truly cared about the voice of the people, he would not be opposed to Election Day becoming a federal holiday. Politico notes that McConnell considers himself to be the “guardian of Senate tradition,” yet blocking Garland’s nomination goes against Senate tradition, especially considering former Justice Anthony Kennedy was confirmed during Ronald Reagan’s last year as president.
Mitch McConnell claims to be guardian of the Senate, a supporter of the American people’s voice, and sympathetic to the Justice Department’s reviewing of the Mueller report, yet his actions prove otherwise. Time and time again, his actions prove his true goal is garnering more power for the Republican Party by trying to squash proposals from the Democratic Party, even if that means taking the ability to vote away from the people and, thus, weakening democracy in America.