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Feb 22

Mitch McConnell: The Architect of American Political Gridlock Since 2010

Category: Life,Opinions

During President Obama’s 2016 State of the Union address he blamed himself for not being able to overcome the political gridlock that has plagued his two terms in office. It was a very noble “the buck stops here” kind of regret, but I think he needn’t blame himself.

Americans have this false perception that President Obama is ineffectual, that he can’t get anything done. People feel let-down, people feel that President Obama has let America down. Yes, the last eight years haven’t seen the change we expected, but to blame the President is absolutely unfair. The fact is, President Obama has passed a great deal of important legislation under the worst possible political conditions. It’s astonishing that he has managed to get anything passed, considering the wall of ignorance and intolerance between him and the change WE want. This wall was designed by one man, with the Republican party to help him build it brick-by-brick. The architect of our current state political gridlock is Senator Mitch McConnell.

Back in November of 2010, after a midterm election cycle dominated by the G.O.P., then Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, spoke at a press conference during which he laid out the Republican party’s political agenda for next two years. He spoke quite plainly, their top priority, their #1 political goal shouldn’t be to protect Social Security, or to lower taxes (like always). Mitch McConnell proudly and publicly announced that above all else, the Republicans should make Barack Obama a one-term President.

The plan was simple enough, just say no to everything President Obama proposed, first and foremost, the Affordable Care Act, something Mitch McConnell would not abide. The Affordable Care Act was already law at the time, so McConnell vowed to repeal it, or otherwise defund and hinder it until a successful repeal could be made. Of course, President Obama would veto any successful vote to repeal, hence Goal #1. Yet, vote they would, over and over and over again in some sort of bizarre symbolic gesture. Aside from trying to kill the Affordable Care Act, they would vote no on everything from the extension of unemployment benefits during a time of economic crisis, to blocking Presidential political office appointments. They even refused to pass typically non-partisan infrastructure legislation, legislation that would usually pass without a second thought. As a rule of thumb, infrastructure legislation passes easily, building roads and fixing bridges is a political slam-dunk. That is, until the Republican Wall of No went up.

Mitch McConnell’s plan didn’t totally pan out. President Obama is three years into his second term, his re-election soundly won. The Affordable Care is still law, it was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the Mitch McConnell architected Republican Wall of No is strong and tall as ever. Republicans are still voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the House of Representatives has taken up some 60 votes since 2010. These exercises in futility would be amusing, almost, if not for the waste of time and tax dollars.

Recently, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away. When a Supreme Court Justice dies or retires, it’s the President’s Constitutional duty to appoint a new Justice. There’s no fuzzy gray area, there’s nothing to interpret or debate, the Constitution is clear as glass. The Supreme Court must contain 9 Justices (to prevent situations of dead-lock), it’s the President’s duty to appointment new Justices when necessary. President Obama is our current President, his term doesn’t end for just under a year. That should be enough said, but of course, it’s not. Before Justice Scalia could make it into the ground (we’re talking an hour after Antonin Scalia quit breathing), Mitch McConnell flat-out vowed to block ANYBODY appointed by President Obama. He insists that our next President should appoint Justice Scalia’s replacement. While there have been Supreme Court appointments made toward the end of a Presidential term, no branch of government has ever demanded that a sitting President yield his duty to appoint, no matter the length of his fading term in office. McConnell would rather risk a year of dead-locked Supreme Court decisions for a 50/50 shot that a Republican President would appoint a conservative Supreme Court Justice. It’s unheard-of, it’s astonishingly arrogant, it puts one man’s agenda above what is written in the Constitution. It’s exactly how Senator McConnell has “governed” for the past six years. Damn the will of the people, damn what’s best for America, damn any and all rules governance. So long as President Barack Obama is blocked at every single turn, Mitch McConnell counts it as a victory. Is it a victory for the Republican party, a victory for Conservatism? No, to me, it’s a victory for closed-mindedness and selfish ego.

For the past six years, the Republican party hasn’t been about anything, rather, they’ve set out to stop Presidential ideas. Led by Senator Mitch McConnell, they’ve built their Wall of No between President Barack Obama and the change he promised America.

I think it’s telling that we have crumbling roads and failing bridges in our great nation, it shows a level ice-cold calculation. The Wall of No isn’t arbitrary and it isn’t stupid. It’s chillingly thoughtful. It didn’t work in 2012, but no matter, McConnell was planning for the long-con just in case. It’ll work this election cycle if we let it.

The Republican narrative on the campaign trail is that we are no longer a great nation, the shining city on a hill is a long-faded dream. America is broken as her roads and bridges. Don’t worry though, they con fix everything. A Republican President can restore us to our former glory. It sounds terrifying, and there are hints of truth that help to sell the story. We have experienced steady, but slow progress. Employment is up, but wages aren’t great. We are stagnant in many ways. We don’t have clean energy in place. Our infrastructure is stuck somewhere in the 1950s. Immigration reform is so far away it seems like fiction. Republicans point these things out, while painting America’s portrait a thousand times darker than it truly is, always crying that President Obama has done nothing to fix anything. Of course, Republicans conveniently leave out key facts. President Obama has tried to address each of these issues and dozens of others, but being that both houses of Congress are controlled by the Republicans, they’ve made certain that no legislation passes, made certain that nothing changes. They created the political gridlock that was necessary to make their narrative of stagnation and decline true enough to sell while maintaining straight faces.

History won’t look kindly on Mitch McConnell and his long-con, his Wall of No. History can not be fooled, History can not be swindled into marking down lies as facts. I don’t worry how History will look upon President Barack Obama and the way he fought to protect America against abhorrent political tactics. I do worry about the voters of 2016, I worry they’ll help to undo nearly a decade of good work by electing peddlers of half-truths and straight-up lies.

Come November, look at the big picture, look at the Wall of No. Vote to protect the ideals in which we saw so much merit. Do not vote from a place of fear. Republican manufactured fear.


2 Comments so far

  1. Josh February 22nd, 2016 4:14 pm

    Yes!!! You are dead on about everything here. I just hope enough folks can shake the stagnant perspectives that keep them thinking “the old ways” are doing us any good. I love this, I love when you get political!

  2. Rich Gopen February 22nd, 2016 4:21 pm

    Very well stated, Michael. I think Obama will still go down as a “could have been great” but tragically obstructed president. McConnell will probably just be a footnote, but he deserves remembrance as the dastardly villain, much as you describe. Kind of a Joe McCarthy of this era. The question ow is who can repair the federal government? I like Saders’s ideals, but he’d be far more divisive and ineffective than any one. Hillary would be only slightly better but I don’t trust her. Probably the most potentially effective person would be Kasich but he doesnt stand a chance.