Malevolent Mitch drives U.S. democracy into a ditch
Driving democracy into a ditch: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., takes some of his Republican accomplices for a subway car under Capitol Hill in this March 18, 2020 photo. | Patrick Semansky / AP

“Malevolent Mitch” McConnell—Senate Republican leader from Kentucky—is driving U.S. democracy into the ditch of history. Of course, he’s got a lot of help.

McConnell engineered the defeat, by a 49-51 vote, of even the start of debate on the latest attempt to save and strengthen U.S. voting rights. That Oct. 20 tally, with all 49 other Senate Republicans blindly following McConnell’s diktat, kills any chances that GOP voting repression around the country can be stopped legislatively, at least for now.

It’s no surprise McConnell wants to ban voting by people of color, women, youth, some older people, and workers. That’s what those who now rule the Republican Party—and who kowtow to their Supreme Leader, Donald Trump—demand.

Besides, banning voting by your foes—by outlawing mail-in balloting and early voting, restricting drop boxes to one per county, rampant gerrymandering, scrubbing voter rolls to erase Black Americans, imposing registration fees which look suspiciously like poll taxes and, if all else fails, empowering GOP-gerrymandered state legislatures to override popular votes—is exactly what the Republicans and their corporate contributors mandate.

If your opponents can’t elect anybody to office, they can’t stop your agenda of tax cuts for corporations and the 1%, of repressing worker rights, of reducing women and people of color to second-class citizenship or worse, and on and on and on. Democracy? What’s that?

But McConnell is just leading the charge in ditching democracy. In back of him are the rich radical right, such as the Koch Brothers and other denizens of the capitalist class, the other 49 Senate Republicans, right-wing governors such as Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas, all but a handful of House Republicans, and GOP lawmakers and local officials from coast to coast.

After all, even the Republican governor of Alaska, Mike Dunleavy, has gotten into the act. He wants the legislature to pass a law allowing investigations of “voter fraud”—one of Trump’s perpetrated lies—if any voter complains. He also wants to repeal automatic voter registration.

No wonder Communications Workers President Chris Shelton zeroed in on the threat.

“This has been a year and a half of political extremism,” Shelton said. It included “the decision of a sitting president,” Trump, “to refuse to accept the results of an election.

“And never before have extremists, carrying a Confederate battle flag, stormed the Capitol on behalf of a candidate who lost, lost, lost—by seven million votes.

“And never before has a political party, with a few exceptions, lost its mind and” adopted “the spirit of hate in the insurrectionist mob of January 6,” Shelton told his union’s convention recently.

Instead of invaders sporting buffalo horns, the threat to democracy is being committed by “legislators wearing suits,” he added. “They can’t win an election,” Shelton said of the Republicans. “So their Plan A is eliminating the right to vote of those they don’t want to vote.”

So what can we do about Malevolent Mitch and his ditching of democracy? One idea is to overwhelm the foes with absolute numbers—register so many people and make sure they hit the polls in 2022 and 2024 that, despite the GOP’s blockades, we win and they lose.

But if democracy’s foes don’t even let us vote, then what? Well, maybe French revolutionary Bertrand Barère de Vieuzac (not Thomas Jefferson) had the right idea: “The tree of liberty only grows when watered by the blood of tyrants,” he said in 1793. Are you listening, Mitch McConnell? How about you, Donald Trump? How about you, GOP?

As with all op-eds published by People’s World, this article reflects the opinions of its author.


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.