Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) made a vow Monday to be an obstructionist “Grim Reaper” for progressive legislation when speaking to community leaders in Owensboro, Kentucky.
“If I’m still the majority leader in the Senate think of me as the Grim Reaper. None of that stuff is going to pass,” said McConnell.
If the House returns to Republican control or Trump secures re-election that wouldn’t be an issue, but if Democrats keep the House and pick up the presidency, so long as Republicans kept the Senate, McConnell assured listeners that progressive policies would be stopped cold.
“I guarantee you that if I’m the last man standing and I’m still the majority leader, it ain’t happening. I can promise you,” he said.
This is particularly important because major progressive issues like Medicare for All, the Green New Deal and a higher minimum wage all enjoy wide public support. Even the resulting high taxes on the wealthiest is popular with the American public. And progressive policies have become the core conversation of the 2020 Democratic primary.
It is, therefore, a not-unlikely scenario that McConnell is put in the position to be the lone roadblock to at least some major progressive policies in the future. And as the Senate Majority Leader, McConnell is able to legally block these bills even if passed by the House by simply refusing to allow them to come up for a vote.
“I don’t want you to think this is just a 28-year-old congresswoman from New York. This is much broader than that,” he said, calling attention to his spat with freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York). “I don’t want you to think this is just a couple of nut cases running around here on the fringe.”
McConnell, who is up for re-election, framed progressive policies as socialism in what has become the clear Republican tack for 2020. That has been, to varying degrees of success, the strategy of the Republican party for nearly a century.
It remains to be seen if McConnell can successfully cast himself as the last bastion of capitalism, or if he can successfully conflate progressivism and the kind of autocratic policies that exist in Venezuela.
There is no room to doubt, however, that is the chosen strategy.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.