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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/6/19

Mitch McConnell is destroying the Senate -- and American government

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From The Guardian

The majority leader cares only for winning, not rules or democracy itself. He is doing more damage than Trump

Mitch McConnell Destroys The Senate So Trump Can Destroy The Judiciary
Mitch McConnell Destroys The Senate So Trump Can Destroy The Judiciary
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No person has done more in living memory to undermine the functioning of the US government than the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell.

Yes, Donald Trump has debased and defiled the presidency. He has launched blistering attacks on Democrats, on judges he disagrees with, journalists who criticize him and the intelligence community.

But McConnell is actively and willfully destroying the Senate.

Last Wednesday he used his Republican majority to cut the time for debating Trump's court appointees from 30 hours to two, thereby enabling Republicans to ram through even more Trump judges.

McConnell doesn't give a fig about the Senate, or about democracy. He cares only about winning. On the eve of the 2010 midterm elections he famously declared that his top priority was for Barack Obama "to be a one-term president."

Between 2009 and 2013, McConnell's Senate Republicans blocked 79 Obama nominees. In the entire history of the United States until that point, only 68 presidential nominees had been blocked.

This unprecedented use of the filibuster finally led Senate Democrats in 2013 to change the rules on some presidential nominees (but not the supreme court), to require simple majorities.

In response, McConnell fumed that "breaking the rules to change the rules is un-American." If so, McConnell is about as un-American as they come. Once back in control of the Senate he buried Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland for the supreme court by refusing even to hold hearings.

Then, in 2017, McConnell and his Republicans changed the rules again, ending the use of the filibuster even for supreme court nominees and clearing the way for Senate confirmation of Trump's Neil Gorsuch.

Step by step, McConnell has sacrificed the Senate as an institution to partisan political victories.

There is a vast difference between winning at politics by playing according to the norms of our democracy, and winning by subverting those norms.

To Abraham Lincoln, democracy was a covenant linking past and future. Political institutions, in his view, were "the legacy bequeathed to us."

 

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Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.

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