Playing The Culture-War Card

In 2004, when John Kerry was running against George W. Bush, my youngest son was a Kerry volunteer. On Election Day, he worked at polls in Ohio, having (quite reasonably) concluded that Indiana was a lost cause. I still remember his description of the turnout in the precinct to which he’d been assigned; the culture war that year had targeted LGBTQ folks, and Mitch McConnell’s GOP had made support for a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage a major Republican talking point.

My son said a number of voters came to the polls “dripping animus” and eager to “vote against the gays.”

Now, I have no idea where that polling place was, or how representative those voters were, but post-election analyses did suggest that anti-gay bigotry had driven increases in GOP turnout.

I thought about that election when I read a New York Times report to the effect that McConnell is going back to the culture war well in 2020

Senator Mitch McConnell is about to plunge the Senate into the nation’s culture wars with votes on bills to sharply restrict access to late-term abortions and threaten some doctors who perform them with criminal penalties, signaling that Republicans plan to make curbing a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy a central theme of their re-election campaigns this year.

After months of shunning legislative activity in favor of confirming President Trump’s judicial nominees — and a brief detour for the president’s impeachment trial — Mr. McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, is expected to bring the bills up for votes on Tuesday. Both lack the necessary 60-vote supermajority to advance, and the Senate has voted previously to reject them.

But by putting them on the floor again, Mr. McConnell hopes to energize the social conservatives who helped elect Mr. Trump and whose enthusiasm will be needed to help Republicans hold on to the Senate this year, while forcing vulnerable Democrats to take uncomfortable votes on bills that frame abortion as infanticide. The rhetoric around the measures is hot; Mr. Trump, for instance, has pointed to one of the bills to falsely assert that Democrats favor “executing babies AFTER birth.”

The bills are–surprise!–deeply dishonest. But the content is irrelevant–McConnell isn’t trying to pass them. He’s playing the political game that has characterized his entire career–a game in which “winning” has nothing to do with responsible governance or the common good, but is solely about gaining and retaining political power.

There are good reasons for dubbing McConnell “the most evil man in America”–or, as one magazine headline put it “The Man Who Broke America.”

Since the 2018 midterms, the House has passed hundreds of bills–many of them bipartisan–addressing climate change, voting rights, background checks, paycheck fairness, the minimum wage and numerous other issues that affect American citizens. McConnell has refused to even hear any of them. In fact, he has not allowed any Senate legislative activity other than hearings on Trump’s right-wing (and frequently incompetent) judicial nominees.

Some of those House bills would pass; others wouldn’t. Some may be well-thought-out, others may not be. The only way that citizens can evaluate their merits is if the Senate conducts reasoned debates leading to those determinations.

McConnell doesn’t care. His decision to hold hearings on bills that everyone knows won’t pass–and would do nothing to improve the lives of Americans if they did–is intended only as political theater that he believes will generate passion among the culture warriors and thus increase turnout by the far fringes of his increasingly toxic party.

It’s shameless, morally depraved, and entirely typical.

As much as I want to see Donald Trump perp-walked out of the White House, his manifest stupidity and incompetence makes him less dangerous than Mitch McConnell, who is, unfortunately, very smart.

And more despicable than words can convey.


  1. Sheila,

    As usual, you’re right on point. We have to devise and execute a plan that will neutralize both Trump and McConnell at the same time, before the November elections.

  2. At least one thing we’ve learned from the Bloomberg debacle, New York City is not representative of the views of the vast majority of Americans.

  3. It seems that McConnell has replaced Cheney as most evil politician in America.

    Blue no matter who is the answer to so many problems.

  4. I have said for the last two year McConnell is more important in the election than T – although they’re both despicable. KY and the other potential R swing states, if they are turned could reign in T if, heaven forbid he’s re-elected. Slam the super-majorities. I’ve volunteered to work for Amy in KY

  5. Unfortunately, Mitch McConnell is Donald Trump’s Rasputin!

    Rasputin routinely influenced the Tsar of Russia, he continuously pushed to meld the Russian orthodox beliefs more deeply into the state. The whole scenario became so bizarre, he was poisoned and shot in his assassination, and also took along with him the entire Romanoff family. This is all of course gave rise to the eventual Joseph Stalinesque CCCP/USSR. The supposed antithesis of America, even after its collapse, gave rise to nefarious authoritarian corruption and grift on an unprecedented state scale. The Romanovs weren’t particularly bright, especially if they put their faith and trust in someone such is Rasputin!

    Here, we have a not particularly bright but power-hungry and mentally ill POTUS, an individual that must have more intellect than every intellectual ever to exist on this planet combined, LOL, and is the perfect dupe for the devil behind the scenes, Mitch McConnell! Mitch McConnell is America’s Rasputin. Trump is America’s Romanov, and the call to extract the church from the state is growing because McConnell is following in Rasputin’s footsteps trying to create a state theocracy.

    This is another obvious sign of how history repeats itself, and that humanity is too flawed to learn from history because of their mortality and stiffnecked stubbornness. If you can see the handwriting on the wall, there will be a price to pay. It won’t be pleasant for most, the die has been cast as I mentioned yesterday. America’s imperialistic presidency will have a new tenant that will exact retribution on not only the party of Rasputin, but Rasputin’s err McConnell’s master, the church!

    This video is pretty funny and disturbing at the same time!

  6. Bill Maher made a good point last night, saying that Democrats always lose the messaging war. McConnell knows how to tickle the ID of the un-thinking, aka Republican voter. He must be removed from government. Period. Full stop. He IS destroying our government.

    Go to Amy McGrath’s website and listen to her talk. She’s a retired U.S. Marine fighter pilot, reaching the rank of major, I think. She also presents what leadership should be instead of some turd like McConnell floating in the Congressional punch bowl.

    Travel to Kentucky, it’s just across the Indiana border. Work for her campaign when you can. It’s critical that she defeat Moscow Mitch.

  7. My first thought when reading Sheila’s effort today was “bring it on,” then it occurred to me that I was thinking in combat terms when our response should be more nuanced. I am now thinking our response should be to go after McConnell himself, starting today, not only with campaign contributions to his opponent but via twitter and any other means at out disposal to end this evil man’s career. In such a case he would probably remain in Washington as a lobbyist, but a lobbyist is not a majority leader in the Senate with a trusty 60-vote rule in place, a rule which, like Moscow Mitch, has to go.

  8. Gerald,

    Excellent post. We all need to get to work. Time grows short and there are SO many to educate.

  9. The 60 vote rule works both ways, if you eliminate it, a simple majority would do the trick to pass bills, as of now, McConnell does not have 60 votes, but he could eliminate that to a simple majority and pass all sorts of legislation that would be hazardous to the health and well-being of this country’s citizens. See rule 22, filibuster and cloture! There are plenty of bills on the table, bills that were passed by the previous house, those could be resurrected with a simple majority!

  10. We at CommonGoodGoverning worked with Amy McGrath in 2018 when she barely lost a House seat. She is absolutely qualified and a terrific Senate candidate. Mitch has been the least popular senator in his home state for 10 straight years. LET’S DO IT!

    Donate to Amy and tell everyone you know in KY to vote for her!

  11. The Cultural Wars at least in my lifetime began when the Warren Court ruled on Brown vs The Board of Education. Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was a landmark 1954 Supreme Court case in which the justices ruled unanimously that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional.

    From WIKI:
    The Warren Court brought “one man, one vote” to the United States through a series of rulings, and created the Miranda warning.In addition, the court was both applauded and criticized for bringing an end to racial segregation in the United States, incorporating the Bill of Rights (i.e. including it in the 14th Amendment Due Process clause), and ending officially sanctioned voluntary prayer in public schools. The period is recognized as the highest point in judicial power that has receded ever since, but with a substantial continuing impact.

    The Warren Court was repeatedly attacked for it’s “Judicial Activism” by the Reactionary Conservatives and Jim Crow Democrats. What the Reactionary GOP learned was if you change the courts, you can effect the likely rulings. Since those times the Culture Wars began into what we see today.

    It is now not only the Culture or Social the courts rule on but also cases like Citizens United. The Trumpet IMHO receives a cheat sheet from Pastor Pence and McConnell on who to nominate for the courts and selections in general for appointments.

  12. Like others, I’ve given money to Amy McGrath as well. I would imagine the “party apparatus” will be in KY to help her out as well.

    It also accentuates one of the reasons the GOP works so hard to undermine education in this country. Yesterday, a local GOP promoter shared a piece of yellow journalism, which called for Chuck Schumer to be arrested for threatening federal supreme court judges related to an abortion bill. I pointed out the obvious case of yellow journalism, and she later removed it from her page. She’s also a local middle school teacher.

    Both the GOP and DNC manipulate their base to get them to the ballot box, but it’s much easier for the GOP because they’re dealing with lower IQ voters – a concoction of religious zealots and racists.

    For the DNC, it’s all about identity politics.

    The entire point of the two capitalist parties is to divide and conquer the proletariat and subvert any uprisings against the bourgeoisie.

    If you remember, Obama worked hand-in-hand with Wall Street to quash the Occupy Wall Street movement once he realized it wasn’t useful to the DNC.

    Moscow Mitch is just one symptom among many of a decaying and rotting institution referred to as the United States of America.

    However, if you tune into your nightly news and cable pundits, you’d see everything is fine. Their job is to keep manufacturing consent for a system that produces more unequal results with each passing year.

    Here’s a link to a viral fundraising site to help pay for your medical bills, which are bankrupting Americans. It can also help pay for your education bills. Meanwhile, the stock market is at record levels, so American Media cheers how financially strong we are:

  13. Mitch McConnell probably would think “The Handmaid’s Tale” is a world of perfection in which the evangelistic minority has succeeded in a militaristic takeover of the government of the US and establishes “Gilead” in large portions of the US. IMO, he not only seeks political power but ultimately total control of the government so that all women, people of color and LGBTQ people can be subjugated by and to white wealthy men. If you don’t think that would be possible, ask yourself why it is possible for this subjugation to exist in other countries such as Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. I find this whole destruction of democracy really frightening. I won’t live to see it’s completion, but I fear my children and grandchildren will. Intelligent and tolerant people better wake up and make government their focus before it’s too late.

  14. In 2012 the Minnesota GOP legislature two constitutional amendments put on the ballot. One to ban Gay marriage and one to require voter id. Their hope was to drive conservative voter turn out. Both amendments were soundly defeated, and probably contributed to the defeat of Romney and flipping the legislature blue.

    One of these days, a Republican abortion ban will succeed, and when that happens I predict there will be a huge backlash

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