McConnell Reverses Himself on the Merits of ‘Show’ Votes

This is a relatively minor example of hypocrisy, but it’s worth pointing out because we’re completely deluged with small examples of hypocrisy, and it all adds up over time to create a crisis of cynicism and lack of faith in our leaders.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that the Senate would vote on the Green New Deal introduced last week by Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

“I’ve noted with great interest the Green New Deal, and we’re going to be voting on that in the Senate to give everybody an opportunity to go on record,” McConnell told reporters.

The bill, which is not expected to pass the GOP-dominated upper chamber, could force some Democrats to make a politically awkward calculation.

In case it’s not clear, the Senate Majority Leader intends to introduce a bill that is not expected to pass and that would not be signed by the president even if it did. The purpose is to put pressure on some Democratic senators to either vote ‘no’ and anger their base or vote ‘yes,’ and upset members of the business communities in their home states. Since the bill won’t become law, this is a thankless task for the Democrats. They won’t get much credit for supporting the bill, especially compared to the headache it might cause. Opposing the bill will put them in the dog house and get them a bunch of angry phone calls.

It’s a solid political play by Mitch McConnell, but remember that we just spent 35 days with the government partially shut down because McConnell kept arguing that it was a waste of time to debate a funding bill that the president would not sign.  Here’s an example from January 3:

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday laid out the terms for taking up legislation to end the current government shutdown, saying his Republican-dominated chamber would not consider any bill President Donald Trump would refuse to sign.

“Let me say it again: The Senate will not take up any proposal that does not have a real chance of passing this chamber and getting a presidential signature,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

Here’s an example from January 10:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked a vote on Democrat spending bills that would reopen parts of the government without a border wall, referring to the legislation as “political stunts.”

“The last thing we need to do right now is trade pointless—absolutely pointless—show votes back and forth across the aisle,” McConnell said on the floor Thursday, according to CNN. “The political stunts are not going to get us anywhere.”

Here’s an example from January 15:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked another House-passed spending package that would end the government shutdown, saying the Senate would not “participate in something that doesn’t lead to an outcome.”

He wouldn’t allow votes to reopen the government because they “didn’t have a real chance of passing” and were therefore “absolutely pointless show votes” and “political stunts” that would not “lead to an outcome.” Yet, that is precisely what he’s eager to do now with the Green New Deal proposal.

When our leaders are this cynical, it’s rational for the electorate to treat them with cynicism. To some degree, politics has always involved this kind of gamesmanship, but McConnell consistently takes things to such an extreme level that he’s fraying the fabric of the Republic.

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com