The reality I’ve known for over three decades is over: There is now a plausible scenario in which I would support U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell. If Gov. Matt Bevin challenges McConnell in the 2020 Republican primary, it will be a race between a man who wants to rule the world (McConnell) and a man who wants to change it (Bevin).
I think I have to root for Mitch.
Excuse me for a moment…
I apologize. I must’ve had some bad fish.
Rumors have been stirring across the Commonwealth for months — that Gov. Bevin is considering a second run at McConnell in the 2020 Senate Republican primary.
A lot has changed since the wealthy hedge-fund investor, Tea Partier and supporter of cockfighting challenged McConnell in 2014. Bevin is now well-known to Kentuckians, has a fully-functioning field and propaganda operation and he is well-connected throughout the massive Republican donor network.
Mitch is six more years unpopular. And despite his powerful position (recently becoming the longest-serving Republican Senate majority leader in history) is increasingly unpopular in Kentucky. He’s also increasingly at the mercy of Donald Trump, leader of the Republican Party.
McConnell is acting like he believes the rumors, and he knows just how perilous his next race could be.
It was only a year ago that Mitch openly displayed his disagreements and frustrations with President Trump, when neither one could create legislation to replace Obamacare. Now, after seeing how quickly Trump can bring the demise of fellow Republicans who dare cross him, Mitch is holding on to the president like his life depends on it.
McConnell doesn’t dare fight Trump on his trade tariffs, even the ones against our allies or could hurt Kentucky (our bourbon, those bastards!). He isn’t even allowing his own Senate Republican caucus members to offer legislation that would put limits on Trump’s tariff powers.
Now, as of this past weekend, McConnell has begun to echo Trump’s talking points that the Mueller investigation has gone on long enough.
As Al Cross elucidated in Sunday’s Courier Journal, “McConnell’s reasons for avoiding a crackup with Trump are also personal. He has low poll ratings in Kentucky, where the president remains popular with the Republican base and Trump-friendly Gov. Matt Bevin looms as a possible primary challenger to McConnell in 2020. In such a race, one Trump tweet might finish McConnell off.”
Mitch’s humiliating display of cowardice and self-preservation is not surprising. He, in fact, leads a morally-bankrupt party of elected officials. This fact made crystal clear as he and fellow Republicans sit quietly while Trump kidnaps and imprisons children at the border out of fear for their job security.
But, that’s always been Mitch. Why risk your power and influence for some illegal immigrant babies? Or, over disparaging comments Trump made about our Canadian neighbors and other allies?
There’s no question Mitch is scary and his policies are corrupted by greedy, wealthy influences. But Mitch understands that there are rules to the game. He understands that opposition exists and that there are times when he will need to work with it.
Not Bevin. He sees the rules of the game as an unnecessary hindrance to his goals. Like Trump, Bevin wants to tear the system down.
Bevin is scary, too. He doesn’t just want power — he already has power. He wants to remake the social and cultural order: A strict, Evangelical Christian-code where those who disagree with him aren’t welcome.
Neither provides any hope for change in American politics. In fact, the two greatest scourges on our politics are represented by these two men: One, a political mastermind capable of corrupting government from the inside, the other, an ideological demagogue who inflames both ends of the political spectrum to suit his own ambitions.
Mitch is the source of dysfunction in our government. Our only hope is that, once he is gone, he hasn’t left behind his “How to” manual for obstruction.
Bevin, on the other hand, represents the nastiness of politics. The name-calling and bitterness that divides Americans.
Sure, it’s possible that Bevin, should he become a U.S. senator, would be relegated to nothing more than a powerless, hard-line Republican, making him the safer pick between the two. Perhaps it is too risky to allow McConnell to continue his malevolent reign.
But, this could become the choice for Kentucky Republicans. And given the option between dysfunction and a social, cultural civil war, I (Reluctantly!) am rooting for Mitch.
To quote Bill Murray: “Dogs and cats, living together.”