An Open Letter to Senator Mitch McConnell
I first started following your career with some degree of admiration while a young dental student at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry and you were the County Judge/Executive for Jefferson County in the early to mid 1980’s. It mattered not that I was a registered Democrat and you were a Republican for I have never voted party lines. I always vote the issues and for the candidate whom I feel can best wrest with those issues. I watched in awe as you ran your 1st senatorial campaign, the “Where’s Dee” ads were a stroke of genius that absolutely put a very closely contested race over the top. Although in retrospect, this ad was based upon a falsehood. Statistically, Huddleston was present for ~94% of the senate floor votes during his tenure. Actually, a much better than average voting record among his colleagues at the time.
As you began your senatorial career I was impressed with the ease with which you seemed to pick up the nuances of the senate and it’s constitutional mandates. You seemed intent upon making positive changes for both Kentucky and the U.S. as a whole. The good of the many seemed more important to you than the good of the few, or, to put it more bluntly, you appeared to practice country over party. A quality that I admire in any politician, whether I agree with their political stance or not. But this quality was short lived. It seems you quickly discovered that if you wanted to move up in your party’s hierarchy, you would have to become much more conservative and tow the party line. Something you seemed more than willing to to do. The end justifying the means so to speak.
From the moment you made the decision to bow to the whims of the party demagogues you never looked back, and you never put the interests of Kentucky or the nation above those of the Republican Party again. You have had the chance to have a hand in campaign finance reform, taking unlimited corporate financing out of elections, effectively buying elections. But you chose not to because people such as the Koch brothers were plentiful and more than willing to contribute to you and your Republican colleagues. Don’t misunderstand, I realize these folks are plentiful on the left as well, they just seem more determined on the right. And in either case it’s wrong, they’re essentially buying the election.
You emphatically accused Mr. Obama of a war on coal and repeatedly laid the death of the coal industry at his feet. The problem with that begins in the mid 1980’s. That’s when I opened my first dental practice in Eastern Kentucky. Almost without fail, each and every patient who sat in my chair that had any association with the mining industry had one message for me. It was just to bad that I couldn’t have opened my practice just ten years earlier when King Coal was booming. When the popular saw was that there were more millionaires per capita in Pike County, Kentucky than any other county in the nation. They were certain that the coal industry was now dying or dead (mid to late 80’s) and it would not be resurrected. Sir, you have been a member of the senate since this time. A member from one of the leading coal producing states in the country. A look at your record shows that you have done little to nothing to stop this death during your 30+ year tenure. Further you have gone so far as to stymie stabilizing efforts of the retired miners pension funds. You mocked Mr. Obama’s efforts at environmental protection and miner safety but have said nothing as deaths have doubled from mining accidents in the wake of Mr. Trump’s withdrawal of so many safety regulations and the dramatic increase in black lung cases following the lowering of environmental working conditions within the mines. These things have benefited the bottom line of the mine owners and almost certainly never affect their health so it’s all good, the party comes out stronger in the bases eyes.
Publicly, approximately two years after Mr. Obama assumed office, you stated you had no greater legislative goal than to make him a one term president. You use this timeframe as evidence that you gave him time to prove himself before forming a decision regarding this president. Yet leaks concerning speeches you gave just after Mr. Obama was elected Bell your true feelings. According to those present, you felt Mr. Obama was to popular to take head on. You said the party would have to give the appearance of cooperation but actually try to quietly stymie his legislative efforts at every turn until such time as his popularity had fallen to the point that you could overtly confront his agenda. Apparently this came when you made your public statement of obstructionism. And you continued that agenda with vigor for the entirety of Mr. Obama’s presidency to the point that you convinced many in the electorate that he was quite ineffectual. It all culminated in your refusal to even hold hearings on the president’s Supreme Court nominee, stating there wasn’t enough time left in the presidency to properly consider the nomination and that the nation should be able to choose the next president who would pick this nominee. There was time, almost a year, and the electorate had chosen a president to pick this nominee. Mr. Obama’s term was legitimate and in force until the minute Mr. Trump took the oath of office. He had every right to make that nomination. You had no right to hold it. You usurped the constitutional process for your own political gains.
Polling consistently shows you to be among the most unliked senators in their home district within the U.S. Surely, you can’t be happy about this. Surely you want to work toward the goals that matter to your constituents, not just those items that further the agenda of the party. It seems you have a choice to make. You can choose to become a senator who champions the causes of your constituents and works for the betterment of society as a whole. You can strive to emulate a great man who the nation just interred at the Naval Academy, Senator John McCain, or the Lion of the Senate, Senator Edward Kennedy. Both of these men personally knew sacrifice, both worked tirelessly for the betterment of the country. Neither was perfect, they had their own demons to slay. Each came from a different philosophy but each had the same goal in mind, to make America the best she can be, not the best the Republican or Democratic Party can be. You even have an extremely worthy example to follow from our own states history. The Great Compromiser himself, Henry Clay. Or you can continue to align yourself with the divisiveness and hatred of Mr. Trump and push an agenda of party first above all else. You have a decision to make and time is fast running out. From the grassroots rumblings I’m hearing, I’d say you’ve got until your next general election.