Mitch McConnell Admits That Voting Rights Are Bad for Republicans

Photo: Tasos Katopodis (Getty)

If there’s a more craven worm in D.C. than Mitch McConnell, it hasn’t crawled out of the sewer yet.

The Senate Majority Leader took some much-needed time off from doing nothing to end the ongoing government shutdown to write a take for the Washington Post on Thursday about why expanding voting rights is, in fact, bad.

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The target of his ire is H.R. 1, the House Democrats’ sweeping new elections and ethics reform bill. The bill would implement automatic voter registration, fully restore the Voting Rights Act, and restore the voting rights of people who’ve served their time for felonies, among other measures. The bill would also take aim at big money and powerful influences in Congress, including banning members of Congress from serving on corporate boards.

As if we needed confirmation, McConnell immediately killed any dream the bill had of getting through the Senate in the next couple of years, saying “That’s not going to go anywhere.” And in his Washington Post op-ed, he framed the bill as something that can only help Democrats:

House Democrats won’t come to the table and negotiate to reopen government, but they’ve been hard at work angling for more control over what you can say about them and how they get reelected. They’re trying to clothe this power grab with cliches about “restoring democracy” and doing it “For the People,” but their proposal is simply a naked attempt to change the rules of American politics to benefit one party. It should be called the Democrat Politician Protection Act.

Really puts the last ten years of voter ID laws, accusations of voter fraud accusations, and racial and political gerrymandering into perspective.

McConnell went on to lament that the bill would change the structure of the six-member Federal Elections Commission to remove its “bipartisan” veneer and make it a five-member body. “Since Watergate, the commission has been a six-member body so neither party can use it to punish political opponents,” McConnell wrote. “Apparently, Democrats have grown tired of playing fair. This bill would weaponize the FEC with a 3-to-2 partisan makeup.”

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Apart from the fact that the structure of the board and political polarization has made it utterly useless, there’s only four people currently serving on the FEC—two Republicans, one Democrat, and one independent—and all of their terms have been expired for a combined total of over 30 years. The term of one commissioner, Ellen Weintraub, expired in 2007. These members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. This is McConnell’s fourth year as majority leader, and guess what: Nothing has changed. Now, all of a sudden, he cares about the integrity of the FEC.

McConnell continued, emphasis mine:

Democrats would also like you to pay for generous new benefits for federal bureaucrats. Their bill proposes making Election Day a new paid holiday for government workers and six additional days’ paid vacation for federal bureaucrats to work the polls during any election. This is the Democrats’ plan to “restore democracy”: extra taxpayer-funded vacation for bureaucrats to hover around while Americans cast their ballots.

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The gall of McConnell to characterize a paid holiday and six days off to volunteer as “generous new benefits for federal bureaucrats,” at the same time he’s currently keeping the government closed and thus putting many workers into desperate straits, is truly incredible. This also ignores that making Election Day a paid federal holiday serves another purpose: To encourage the private sector to do the same for its own employees.

The Republican Party is anti-democracy. The evidence for this is not just the would-be authoritarian doofus in the White House, but what Republicans in Congress and state legislatures have done all over the country over the past decade to entrench their power regardless of which way the political winds are blowing. It’s just awfully nice of Mitch McConnell to finally come out and say that was the intent all along.

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