The Concern That Drives Mitch McConnell’s Mendacity

One of the biggest stories coming out of the 2018 midterms was about the election fraud that occurred in North Carolina. Mark Harris, the Republican candidate in the 9th congressional district, hired political operative Leslie McCrae Dowless against the advice of several people, including his own son. Dowless collected absentee ballots from voters and if they registered a vote for the Democrat in the race, he either threw them away or changed the vote. After Harris narrowly won, the fraud was uncovered and a new election ordered to take place.

But leave it up to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to blame it all on Democrats.

The big lie the Majority Leader tells is to equate what happened in North Carolina with voter fraud. He says that, “a very real incident of voter fraud has become national news.” The lesson Mitch McConnell wants us to take from the election in North Carolina’s 9th congressional district is that voter fraud is very real and Democrats are to blame for failing to support Republican efforts to combat it.

What McConnell doesn’t want you to know is that North Carolina already has a voter ID law—and it didn’t stop the “wrongdoing” he’s talking about. That’s because what Dowless did was not voter fraud—it was election fraud and voters had nothing to do with it.

It is interesting to think about why McConnell would bother to come up with such a mendacious account of what happened in North Carolina. It didn’t involve a senate seat and, contrary to what he suggested in that floor speech, it is Republicans who have gone silent when it comes to their constant refrains about voter fraud.

I would suggest that the Majority Leader made that speech on Tuesday for the same reason that he took the time to write an equally mendacious ope-ed about a bill Democrats plan to vote on in the House next week. It is being referred to as either HR 1 or the “For the People Act” and contains measures to restore voting rights, as well as legislative changes to address gerrymandering, campaign finance and ethics reform.

McConnell is concerned because, more than anyone else, he has demonstrated over and over again that he understands what Zachary Roth wrote two years ago.

Today’s conservatives have no such confidence that the people are on their side. In fact, they are beginning to perceive that they’re in the minority – perhaps more glaringly than ever before. And yet this realization has brought with it another more hopeful one: being outnumbered doesn’t have to mean losing.

The Majority Leader knows that Republicans are in the minority and the only way to maintain his power is to undermine democracy by any means at his disposal. Of course he can’t admit to that. So instead, he suggests that a case of Republican election fraud is the fault of Democrats for not believing the lies his party tells about voter fraud in order to suppress the vote.

I’d probably give McConnell the benefit of the doubt in not being as ignorant as Donald Trump. But he has proven once again that he is every bit as mendacious as the president.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.