I was asked what I thought about Mitch McConnell, specifically concerning his speech just after the acquittal decision in the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump. Emotionally I was exhausted, exhausted of him, Trump and the whole stinking Republican Party. But mentally I had an understanding and could relate to the tight rope McConnell walked. As I stated in my book “Inhale Fear, Breathe Anger: Dixiecrats, TEA Partiers, and Changing Political Paradigms”, Republicans were due for a paradigm change in their party. I even mentioned quite frequently that paradigm changes are often violent and messy. In this instance the Republican Party is more that living up to my predictions. Like one supporter told me, “…it is like you predicted, but on steroids…”.
The original Republican Party is a byproduct of changing political paradigms. It was formed by farmers and main street businesses from Whigs, Democrat-Republicans, and others as an answer to slavery and the economic issues surrounding slavery. Issues that the then current old paradigm believers refused to confront. The formation of the Republican Party was a primary catalyst to the dissolution of the Whig Party. It has had major changes in its paradigms over the years and it isn’t unexpected that it would continue to this day. But the difference now is the sound and fury of these changes. An additional difference is the possibility of the formation of a new party again and/or dissolution of the Republican Party because of its current adherence to old paradigms.
Democrats have had many paradigm changes. Latest was 2004 – 2008 with the election of Barack Obama as President. But somehow, we kept our paradigm fights inhouse. Nice and tidy if you will. Nasty and rambunctious at times but we didn’t invite, nor did we force our fight into the national arena, let alone the Republican Party arena. But Republicans seem to think that what ever they are doing the whole nation should participate and watch. Their arrogance seems to believe that what Republicans are doing is of national importance and everyone should be involved or want to know what is happening. The Republican Party slathers the national consciousness with their internal bloodletting. Their maniacal contortions of glee and abhorrence are plastered into the latest evening news, news feeds, and social networks as if it is singularly the most important event since the founding of the nation. This from a party that is the smallest of the two main political parties and only garners about 25% of the registered voters in the United States.
Into this fray walks Mitch McConnell. The epitome of the old guard paradigm if there ever was one. On the opposite side is Trump. More importantly those he left behind like McCarthy and Goetz. Now consider that McConnell thinks he is right, about everything. He joined the Republican Party because he believed in its ideals as expressed at the time. In his mind those ideals are what makes the United States great. In his mind we need to implement these ideals, embed these ideals and ensure the United States lives by them in years to come. Because he believes this, he believes what is good for the Republican Party is good for the United States. Therefore, loyalty to the party is loyalty to the United States. I can hear some of you reading this and thinking “that idea is nuts”. Oh really! How many of you believe say in the Democratic Party and its ideals? How many of your think that if we adopted those ideals and embedded them into the fabric of the country, the country would be better, more secure, greater economically and a moral leader in the world? Methinks you protest too much.
McConnell not only believes he is right, but that the Republican Party must be preserved. It must be to save the nation. Now we have Tumpites and Magats trying to take over the Republican Party. Don, Jr. works tirelessly to take up the crown torn from his father’s head. Whether McConnell likes it or not many in his Party, now as much as 40%, believe in Trump and the paradigms he presented. So much that these paradigms are religiously followed by his Magats and Trumpites. To keep his Party intact, to have a chance at protecting his paradigms, McConnell must walk the tightrope between both factions. McConnell hates Donald Trump. This is not in doubt. His numerous pronouncements and his speech on the floor of the Senate confirms it. McConnell also believes in the strict interpretation of the Constitution, albeit many think he believes in his strict interpretation, not the Supreme Courts or scholars. If you can understand these things and hold them together you understand what Mitch is doing, and might, to a point, appreciate the skill with which he is doing it.
Mitch does not think you can impeach a person after he left office. He does not think the Constitution gives him or Congress that power. Even though Congress itself said it had that power, Mitch still clings to the strict interpretation that if the powers are not enumerated in the Constitution they are left up to the states or the people, not Congress. So, in his mind he cannot impeach. But nothing in the Constitution states that a person cannot be held accountable for their actions after they leave office. In fact, precedent and common law encourage such accounting. Mitch McConnell hates Trump. He does not want him in the Party. He wants him in jail. But for the sake of the Party, he does not want to put him there. He wants and needs the Democrats to do his dirty work for him.
Mitch needs the Democrats to do this, because in his mind he needs the Republican Party to stay powerful and active. After all it is the Party that will preserve and protect the country and Constitution which in effect means the Party is the country. The continuance of the Republican Party means the continuance of the Country. Plus, he does not want to be the last leader of the venerable Party and is forced to oversee its demise. He needs to preserve and protect it. He needs to keep it intact. He knows the Party’s history and how it came about with the destruction of the Whig Party. He does not want to follow in the wake of that old and intractable Whig Party. But he also wants to preserve the paradigms he believes in, the ones that seduced him to join the Party, gave him power and position and shaped our Union.
With this in mind, McConnell must fight the embrace of new paradigms brought to the Party by Trump. He must keep the disparate factions together long enough to form a powerful coalition to keep power in the Party and in the country. Then if and when the time is right, he needs to purge the Trump cancer and their paradigms from his Party. All the while McConnell has to fight the embrace of Democratic ideals from the Democratic Party and Democratic President. Ideals in his mind that are antithetical to the preservation of the Union and against what the Constitution stands. Even if those ideals and projects are good for the United States citizens. Because, in the long run, he knows, knows the adoption of Democratic ideals and programs will be bad for the preservation of the Country and its founding ideals.
If you consider these things you can appreciate the tightrope Mitch McConnell is walking. He has to preserve his party, the paradigms he embraces, get Trump convicted and oppose all Democratic reforms. In the end he also has to be able to embrace Trump and Trumpism once again if the orange blob does win this battle or gets elected once again. It is a tall order. Plus, he is 78 years old. Time is not on his side. Time marches on and what was good even ten years ago is often rejected in current events. Which is why the odds are against him. He wishes to preserve a paradigm that was built before Black Lives Matter, the evolution of women’s rights and the advent of instantaneous worldwide communication. His idealism was developed with and in white privilege, known enemies and United States superiority. Republican paradigms are in need of change. Hopefully not the regressive and white racist polices of the Trumpism. But they need to change. Or in spite of what Mitch McConnell wants, his party will dissolve and with it many hopes for the United States future.
Latest posts by Douglas Courtney (see all)
- A Discussion of Dobbs v Roe - July 2, 2022
- Redistricting; Maybe not the Big Bad Wolf this year - February 4, 2022
- Mitch McConnell. The last stand of old Republican Paradigms - March 4, 2021