What Is The Remedy For A McConnell?

An article I read in Vox a month or so ago has continued to bother me. The subject-matter was summed up in the sub-head: “The political system has an answer for a threat like Donald Trump, but none for a threat like Mitch McConnell.”

If Trump often acts like he is above the law, it is only because McConnell lets him. If McConnell decided to lead Senate Republicans in investigating and curbing Trump’s corruption, abuses of power, and obstruction of justice, Trump’s options would be to reform his behavior or be ejected from office.

The article goes on to make a point that is so obvious it is often overlooked. Despite their  differences (McConnell is evil, calculating and smart, Trump is mentally disordered, undisciplined and stupid) they do have one thing in common. They are both utterly shameless.

At the core of this is McConnell’s peculiar form of political shamelessness. This is the way McConnell and Trump are more similar than is often appreciated: they have both proven that the range of political action is disciplined less by external constraint than by a politician’s sense of shame — the degree to which they turn back in the face of public criticism, media opprobrium, elite backlash.

It was shamelessness, for instance, that let McConnell refuse to hold a hearing on Merrick Garland and then, grinning, admit that he’d fill a Supreme Court seat if one came up in 2020. McConnell’s predecessors held the same power he did and none of them attempted that maneuver. They weren’t restrained by laws or rules. They were restrained by temperament and a belief that to break the system was to betray the public.

When political scientists talk about “democratic norms,” it is the restraints of temperament and fidelity to tradition and rules that they are referencing.  McConnell has demonstrated his rejection of political accountability, and the system has no mechanism for dealing with someone who acts as if the rules simply don’t apply to him.

The Founders designed our form of government with demagogues in mind. That’s why the president is checked by Congress, up to and including the threat of removal. But they believed that Congress would consider itself in competition with the president, that ambition would check ambition. They did not foresee the rise of political parties and the way that would bring parts of Congress into cooperation with the president, that ambition would protect ambition.

The political system has an answer for a threat like Donald Trump but none for a threat like Mitch McConnell.

McConnell isn’t simply ignoring duties imposed by the Constitution; he is– as the Vox article says–shameless. His actions defy our expectations of normal human behavior, not because he is breaking the rules in order to benefit himself (lots of people do that), but because he is publicly flaunting his violations and daring observers to do anything about them.

As Rochefoucauld said, hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue. McConnell is withholding that tribute. He doesn’t even pretend to behave honorably; his entire, smug demeanor says “I’m demolishing longstanding norms and traditions because I can and there is nothing any of you can do about it.”

The only remedies available are political: McConnell could lose his Senate race in 2020, or Democrats could take the Senate, removing his authority to do significant damage. Given that he represents Kentucky, the first is unlikely. (Possible, but unlikely.)

The second, I submit, is mandatory. Both he and Trump have to go, and only massive turnout will rid us of both of them.


  1. The Senate majority who put McConnell in that seat of power could remove and replace him as they did John Boehner…who is probably looking pretty good at this time, even to Democrats. They are either too cowardly or are receiving payoffs in some form for keeping him in power which in turn allows Trump to run amok. McConnell’s wife, Secretary of Department of Transportation, has reportedly brought millions of Russian dollars into their home state of Kentucky which pretty well assures him remaining in the Senate after 2020.

    As for allowing Trump to make decisions based on boosting his ego; such as the sudden removal.desertion of our troops from the Kurdish area of northern Syria; it will be very interesting to see how quickly he takes credit for the reported death of Al Baghdazi in the U.S. CIA let attack using continued intelligence from the Kurds. One former general interviewed on CNN early this morning posed the question; was Russian intelligence part of this action or is this northern area of Syria where Putin claimed IS was not located? McConnell’s support of the Trump/Mulvaney fiasco which is becoming central in the Trump/Ukraine impeachment inquiry and moves deeper and deeper into the Trump administration approved by McConnell needed this distraction at this time.

    Back to the Republican Senate majority authority to remove and replace McConnell in his seat of power to save our diplomatic relations world wide and saving countless lives of innocent victims at this time in Syria. McConnell provided Trump with ammunition to fire on the Kurds and Trump fired without taking aim.

  2. Replacing McConnell is a global issue not limited to Kentucky which is why I’ve volunteered for Amy McGrath’s campaign in the bourbon state.

  3. Politics is about the distribution of power. When the system fails to serve the people, the power of the people may be given over to those that desire to take power…in any way that works..in the name of serving the people. A revolution is the historical term. Trump desires all power and threatens to not go easily, all in the name of serving the people. It’s worrisome since political change often comes with the loss of life.

  4. In addition to the shamelessness of these two pathetically awful humans, they also spit on our history and the founders’ intentions when they wrote the Constitution. NOTHING either of them do is Constitutional, and, as you say, the Republicans in the Senate – and everywhere, really – just let them go unchecked. Why? It’s the money, of course. Does anybody know for sure how much of the bribery going on in Congress comes from the Russian oligarchy that launders money along with their morning tea?

    McConnell’s naked corruption, I think, is just the tip of the iceberg of rot in not only the Republican party, but most of Congress as well.

  5. I just posted a response on yesterday’s blog; another slam at the Democratic party, including bipartisan politics, with no resolution to anything.

    Read it or not; I don’t really care, the ongoing disparagement of those of us trying to bring about change is not going to end but it can and will end the battle against Trump’s White Nationalism with the Democratic party the loser and Republicans remaining in power. As the Republican party goes; so goes this nation.

  6. If the Senate does not turn blue next year, McConnell will continue the destruction of the Judicial Branch of our government regardless of who is President. If 45 is re-elected, they will continue to move unqualified people to the Federal bench. On the other hand, if a Democrat is elected, McConnell will simply not have any hearings nor make any move to confirm any appointments. Furthermore, since he hasn’t suffered any consequences of his actions to date, he likely will block any cabinet appointments of any Democrat who gets elected. He will be the death of the Republic.

  7. This shamelessness that Trump and McConnell display has spread like a virus through the ranks of the Republican Party. The entire Cabinet is infected, the Department of Justice, and I fear much of the State Department. Every agency seems to be at war with the most vulnerable of the population as well as the Constitution. And then there are the Trump supporters among us who hide behind their ignorance and piety. And do not forget those segments of the media who bask in their own opinions as if they were facts.
    What will it take for shame to return? When will the time come for someone to finally ask publicly, “At last, Sir, have you no shame?” Or as others have written on this blog, will it take a revolution?

  8. We know what the problem is, so let’s talk solution. It is to vote both McConnell and Trump out of office, failing which, to keep the House and vote in a Democratic majority in the Senate so we can end this right wing judge picking and among other things, sitting on House-passed legislation. I am more optimistic than some of my fellow contributors in that I foresee the possibility of a near sweep with an impeached president and Republican senators who sit idly by while the barbarians “deconstruct” our administrative state (shorthand for ending our democracy), but I don’t want to become too rosy in such predictions for fear of adverse effect on turnout.

    There is also the increasing possibility if not likelihood that Trump will not be the Republican candidate for president, so we may have to confront a Jeb or a Marco or a Mitt in 2020 and must be aware of such a possibility in order to prevent being outflanked while fighting the Goths in a two-front political war, a resource-draining fight we can do without. We are at the mercy of events past, present and future, and it behooves us first and foremost to ceaselessly protect our democracy by shaping such events to the end that our Constitution is not only protected but expanded, honored and applied. We have an historic opportunity upcoming to reverse these past few years of Constitution and norm bashing, so let’s get on with it – and persevere.

  9. The only check on corrupt, shameless senators will be the shameless voters of Kentucky and other red states. Good luck with that.

  10. My comments posted this morning at the end of yesterday’s blog comments was not printed. Evidently I offended someone.

  11. “The Founders designed our form of government with demagogues in mind.”

    I’m still wrestling with slavery and excluding women.

    We’ve been highly biased toward ignorant white men since our inception. #Facts

  12. Losing democracy, for people who have only known it, is a trauma that leaves life long scars. However it is the story of life. Liberty is temporary. It needs nurturing by those on the inside and military protection from those on the outside. We lost ours when the world changed and military became only part of the protection necessary from the outside and we were not enough for protection from the inside.

    Trump is a symptom, so is McConnell, of the defeat of purpose by comfort among all of we the people.

    Staring at the screens trained us to stare at the screens and absorb without thinking what was flashed at us which was the world owes us unlimited comfort that starts with unlimited stuff. Pretty soon we were nodding off while nodding to the message. Comfort equals stuff and happiness and satisfaction is an illusion. More comfort and more stuff is required to chase it.

    Then the puppeteers discovered how to monetize politics with their magic. They didn’t have to change the message even, just the subject. Just the dream of entitlement.

    It’s notable to me that the cowboys who have been taught to ride straight in the saddle now are driving pick up trucks with every optional comfort known to man.

    The question history asks us next year is what will we settle for. TV or freedom.

  13. ive read the vox piece and more,but little is said about asswipe mcconnel. when i talk with fellow workers,his name doesnt even make the charts,again,we go back to civics lessons. if KY is so devout to supprt their dictator in arms at the senate,then its time to fully make the low wage,healthcare denied,removed,,pay cuts to appease the corps for jobs,and most times,doors closed,and no paycheck, (see recent coal train blocked over blackjewel mine episode. )and the fact,KY is a poverty wage state..to bring the word where his mind is really at,and who hes screwed in the path of his righteousness,to get his posistion,the working class in Ky,and America as a whole..creating a few jobs while others hold near poverty in todays world,is unaccepable… ditchmitch.com is organizing ads,and supporting a couple of demos,running for his seat..
    if the people dont have a ongoing chorus of voices,the status quo remains. if the senate can be over turned, to demos,then overriding the bullshit from the white house would be easier. but the demos as a whole need to get some backbone, and focus on the reality,were 40 years into frozen wages,a corporate takeover,and the working class being realigned to be economic slaves to wall streets needs..

  14. Yesterday, we had a blog topic of Civic Literacy or Civic Engagement. The obvious solution is for the voters in Kentucky to reject another term for McConnell. This means that whoever his opposition is they must bring the fight to McConnell. As an aside: According to polling from Morning Consult, about 36% of Kentuckians approve of the senator, while 50% disapprove of him. (The rest don’t have a clear stance.) Trump won Kentucky in 2016 by nearly 30 points.

    Including the special elections in Arizona and Georgia, Republicans will be defending 23 seats in 2020, while the Democratic Party will be defending 12 seats. Currently the GOP has 53 Senate Seats.

    McConnell will undoubtedly run on the two pillars of Republicanism: God and Guns. No matter how conservative his opponent will be, they will be painted as a Socialist.

  15. In the late 1970s, McConnell was a pretty decent Judge/Executive in Jefferson County, Kentucky. In his second term, his extreme partisanship showed up. He is now proof that power can corrupt. He could not stand in Elijah Cummings’ shadow. While rude, the ignored handshake was very symbolic of McConnell’s political poison.

  16. McConnell and Chao’s corruption is catching up to them. The short-fingered vulgarian can’t be indicted while in office, but McConnell can.

  17. ” According to polling from Morning Consult, about 36% of Kentuckians approve of the senator, while 50% disapprove of him. (The rest don’t have a clear stance.) ”

    Not to be underestimated is the number of Kentuckians who will hold their nose and vote for him anyway because the alternative … vote for a Democrat … is simply beyond the pale.

  18. I wish there were a way that Mitch could be sued or prosecuted for (1) violating his oath of office and (2) refusing to do his job — but any time I think of a law to pass, it reminds me of the House Un-American Activities Committee (I would call Mitch’s behavior un-American or anti-American, but again, memories of HUAC) and I think of what twisted use a Tea Party would make of it – (Clinton, Biden, Warren — even Mayor Pete as “un-American”)

    What we need to do is (1) turn out the vote in numbers that haven’t been seen, (2) investigate, investigate, investigate and (3) bring charges/impeachments to former White House officials and cabinet members (Barr, DeVos, Chao, whoever) – this includes sitting judges that lied during their hearing or otherwise behaved in an impeachable way.

    McConnell and his buddies, including Trump, broke the system. We need to “unbreak” it and not worry about being accused of partisanship. If we assume that electing Democrats just resets the clock to 2015 (before the Garland nomination) we can forget our democracy – the courts will favor Republican gerrymandering and overturn anything Democrats try to do – If Democrats win the White House and/or the Senate, I expect a lame-duck session where they cram through appointments for every idiot who is ideologically pure – We have to recognize that while Trump idealizes Putin, it is the Erdogan model that the Republicans are following – slowly erode the democracy until you can rig elections, jail your opponents, and ease into autocracy.

    I heard a good description of Republican politics (not used in that way, but it applies) from Jame Burke (of BBC Connections fame) – “Mushroom Growing Governance” – keep them in the dark and feed them a load of horse manure — in this case courtesy of Fox News

  19. You are one hundred percent right, every word. Trump and McConnell didn’t sell their soul to the devil, they are the devils.

  20. I have wondered why Americans have not seen a conflict of interest in McConnell’s position, and his wife Elaine L. Chao being Secretary for DOT in Trump’s cabinet. That alone will make McConnell to do the biddings of Trump against the interest of the American people. We find this type of arrangement in third world autocracies, that made some of us run away from such countries. So it is so disheartening to come to the US to see such gross corruption tolerated.

  21. McConnell’s position and his wife Elaine Chao being the Secretary of DOT in Trump’s cabinet should be a conflict of interest against the American people. As long as McConnell’s wife serves in the Trump cabinet, common sense should make all of us realize that McConnell will only do the biddings of Trump, and not the interest of the American people. This is the type of corruption you have in third world autocracies, that many of us ran away from.

  22. Len,

    You have to do more than IMPEACH; you have to be able to CONVICT. That’s a much more difficult task, but that’s the only way DEMOCRACY can now survive.

  23. Well spoken. America needs prayers. We need to pray for those so-called Evangelicals who are backing them to have fake Chritians on the Supreme Court . Those Evangelicals will continue to back trump because they need the so called “conservatives” on the bench. No life matters to them. All efforts of trump and his turtle face cohort to devalue our democracy and rule of law is ok by them but God and hitory will not judge them well.

  24. JoAnn Green you could not be more wrong. As the republican party has become so blatant in it’s corruption moral majority of this nation does not follow. We will prove this to you next november. Now #GLDGUAT

  25. How can we have open debates on the Senate floor about gun control, foreign interference in our elections, the environment or a variety of issues that face our society if the head of the Senate refuses to allow them to be introduced. Maybe we need to enact a law that eliminates this power or limit its abuse.

  26. The problem is and solution for would be the Republican party (Or as GOPers used to say: The party of Lincoln…who is bowing his head in shame) get its head out of the sand (or wherever it is) and say: “Enough!” But that won’t happen because it’s been taken over by lunatics. As an independent, this is why I vote candidate and not party. Each has some good…and some bad. The GOP…once a great party…has been destroyed.

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