It’s over folks. The political ads and the yard signs and the postcards from “concerned citizens” in California begging us wayward Kentuckians to vote Mitch McConnell out of office will now cease to be just a memory — another part of the fever dream that has been the past year.
The election ended in the parking lot of Highland Coffee, for me. The twenty people assembled in the makeshift outdoor eating space all applauded as one young woman read from her phone: “Biden defeats Trump to win the White House, NBC News Projects.”
“Time to go make some margaritas,” she announced to all of us.
For some Americans, the election ended with celebrations in the streets. For others, it ended as they sat somberly in their homes and watched President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris give victory speeches on Saturday night. Unfortunately, a very key set of people have refused to accept the election results: prominent Republicans.
Of course, four years worth of observing President Donald Trump’s mannerisms could clue anyone into thinking that he wouldn’t go down swinging. And, of course, it’s to be expected that his inner-circle — including personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner — would go along with whatever Trump’s antics might entail, even if it is ignoring our democratic institutions. But one particularly disappointing person to see comply with this direct assault on voting is our lovely senator, Mitch McConnell.
I had the opportunity to meet McConnell last November, when my school took a trip up to D.C. McConnell was also a duPont Manual High School Crimson, way back in his day, so it wasn’t hard for us to schedule a meeting with him. He talked a little bit about Manual and his days in high school. He joked that it probably looked a lot different, now.
I wasn’t a huge fan of McConnell or his policies at the time of our trip, but I’ve grown to really detest the way he handles his position as Senate Majority Leader since then. He’s held up legislation that would pass a new stimulus package — offering economic relief to many Americans affected by the pandemic — in order to rush Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation, failed to meet demands from Kentucky’s youth to address climate change in the Senate, and refused to provide an adequate response to calls for justice for Breonna Taylor.
McConnell, as a leader of the Republican party, will play a big role in indicating to Trump that it is time to step down and concede. Instead, he’s repeatedly supported Trump’s baseless claims that the election was both far from over and that voter fraud was rampant in this year’s election. At the time of publication of this editorial, he is still refusing to acknowledge Biden’s victory.
It’s harrowing to see such essential parts of our democracy so blatantly eroded by prominent leaders, and it’s even more harrowing to see it come from an alumnus of the high school you attend. Manual’s three core values are diversity, tradition, and excellence; of the three, I can most clearly see McConnell’s tradition of partisan politics he’s made a habit of participating in over the past 36 years.
Perhaps this will be McConnell’s last term, as he is now 78 and will be 84 if he chooses to run again. It may be a pipe dream, but I’m hoping that he spends the next six years playing less of a political game of chess and instead focuses his energy and power into co-authoring and enabling pieces of bi-partisan legislation and policy. That would start with acknowledging President-elect Biden’s victory and refusing to stoop to the level of Donald Trump.
Mr. McConnell, if you are reading this, just know that some of us at duPont Manual High School (and youth across the country) are watching and hoping that you make the America we build our futures in better for us. It sure would be a bummer if you went down in history as nothing more than a partisan chess master, hellbent on playing to your party instead of your people.