Why is Senator Mitch McConnell Against Improving Our Democracy?

Shutterstock | Christopher Halloran

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This week, Senator Mitch McConnell authored a piece in the Washington Post where he falsely portrayed HR 1, the House Democrat’s sweeping anti-corruption, pro-democracy reform bill, as a partisan attack on political freedom. In the process, McConnell revealed just how little he or his Republican colleagues actually care about the core tenets of our democracy, and how blatantly he’s willing to lie to preserve whatever political power the Republican party can squeeze out of gerrymandering and voter suppression.

In his op-ed, McConnell tries to scare  readers with the claim that the Federal Elections Commission will “track and catalogue more of what you say” because the bill would require the disclosure of the big donors behind politically active 501(c)(4) organizations and finally crack down on sidecar superPACs, which can receive unlimited contributions and are not supposed to coordinate with individual campaigns but have been doing so anyway unchecked.

To be clear, McConnell is not worried about average Americans like you. Small dollar donations have been available to the public on Open Secrets. McConnell is only concerned that the donor class, which contributes millions in dark money donations, will be outed. It seems McConnell would rather dark money continue to influence our elections, because he and his Republican colleagues stand to benefit from the unlimited flow of untraceable money into our political system.

Similarly, when he pushed back on public financing by calling it a “taxpayer subsidy,” it wasn’t because he’s afraid of funneling public money into campaigns. It’s because he’s afraid of whose campaign that money would go to. He knows if the spending power of billionaires and corporations is not only made public but also equalized by public financing, his party will no longer have the edge they do now.

Not to mention, in the original op-ed he balked against “federalizing the electoral process,” aka putting in place national automatic voter registration, by citing a few thousand registration errors in California, the country’s most populous state. Not only were these errors identified over two months before the election, but they were “administrative processing error(s),” not voter fraud or voter roll purges. His mischaracterization of these errors was so egregious that the Washington Post actually forced him to remove that reference and issue a correction, yet another sign of the deception his position relies on. McConnell’s criticism of a national, uniform system is rooted in his desire to preserve Republican power by preserving the system in some states that makes it difficult for people, particularly the poor, to register to vote. He points to Florida’s November election as proof of Democrats trying to swing elections through “confusion.” McConnell is apparently considering national pressure to count all ballots as partisan “antics.”

And yet, the most ridiculous part of the editorial is when McConnell whines about giving federal workers (yes, the same group of people who have been either furloughed or working without pay for the last three weeks) “generous new benefits.”

The benefits he is referring to are provisions making Election Day a national holiday and having some federal workers assigned to help with elections for six days. Within the same sentence, he calls these six days where federal employees would “work the polls” a “paid vacation.” Huh? Newsflash Senator: it’s not a vacation if they’re working, and as someone who works less than half the year and is still getting paid during the shutdown, you should be the last person to talk about pay for federal workers.

Unfortunately for McConnell, last year’s election made clear to anyone who was paying attention that our democracy is in a dire condition. Millions could not vote, ballots were not always properly secured, and monied interests had enormous sway. One person, one vote is simply not a reality, and only a party that can’t win on its principles would be against the necessary reforms that would fix this.

As such, Mitch McConnell’s rant should encourage supporters of the For The People Act, HR 1. His op-ed was little more than the ramblings of a politician who knows his path to power is on its last legs. The only question now is whether or not all Republicans in the Senate are as willing to undermine American democracy as their leader. We need a vote on HR 1 in the Senate to confirm if his party is as anti-democracy as its leader.


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