The eyes of America are on Kentucky's race for the U.S. Senate because many rightly feel that next to the presidential election, it's the most important contest in the country, with the future health of our democracy riding on the right choice.
That choice is Amy McGrath, a Democrat challenging longtime incumbent and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. During his 36 years in office, McConnell has made it perfectly clear that his only passion is the pursuit of power, his own and that of the Republican Party. For that reason alone, we would endorse his opponent. Luckily for voters, McGrath, a former fighter pilot and public servant, would make an excellent senator who would actually put the needs and interests of Kentuckians above her own.
We endorsed Charles Booker over Amy McGrath in the Democratic primary because of his dynamic leadership on issues such as police brutality, climate change, health care, education and the role of government.
But McGrath has proven that she understands that Kentuckians are suffering from the failure to address the economic, educational and health care needs that have left the state at the bottom of most rankings during McConnell's tenure, suffering that has only worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is a centrist Democrat who knows the good that government can do. She advocates for improving the Affordable Care Act with a public option so that more people don't have to choose between food and medicine.
She wants to reform our criminal justice system to make sure a case like Breonna Taylor's "never happens again" by ending cash bail and starting a national registry for police so that bad officers can't move from city to city. She knows that climate change is real and must be fought, but also sees a role for coal. She supports labor unions because she knows that working people need support when they take on big corporations. She supports more funding for K-12 education and higher education, including a national service project that would exchange a free year of school for a year of service.
McGrath understands that these paths forward are the only way that Kentucky will recover from the devastating effects of the coronavirus and become healthier and more prosperous than the state has been under McConnell's Senate leadership.
"We have people going to work right now and have been throughout this coronavirus because they have to make ends meet," McGrath told the editorial board. "Because there's not paid family leave, and they don't know how they'll pay for health care, they don't know how they'll pay for food on the table. We've got to do this better, and it starts at the top."
And yet, McConnell has not chosen to work frantically to bring more COVID-19 relief home to Kentucky, opting instead to push through a conservative Supreme Court justice who will advance what appears to be his only priority: installing a conservative high court, and beyond that, a conservative judiciary. (The day after his debate with McGrath, McConnell was chastened enough to announce he would work on a slim relief bill.)
That he has pursued his judicial goals with the utmost hubris and hypocrisy is no surprise. We saw exactly how low he would go in 2016 when he refused to hold hearings on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland because it was an election year. Despite what he said then, McConnell has no interest in the people's will now.
As is his practice, McConnell ignored the Herald-Leader's request for an interview with the editorial board. However, his long record speaks for itself, and his priorities are always perfectly clear. People per se have never mattered much to him, except when they are corporations, as was decided in one of McConnell's most consequential political wins, the Citizens United Supreme Court case. That 2010 decision set the stage for the bipartisan political rot in this country, which ensures that only the rich and powerful have access to our federal politicians. Campaign finance reform could improve our democracy and help make it "of the people and for the people" again, but if McConnell stays in power, he will oppose any such efforts with his last breath.
In part because of that decision, the rich have seen innumerable benefits on McConnell's watch, including the 2017 tax cuts, which sent small checks to "people" and huge windfalls to the wealthy and big business. As McGrath has pointed out, in that huge giveaway, McConnell couldn't even secure steady funding for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, which would support coal miners he pretends to care so much about.
That McConnell-backed tax cut fueled a steady erosion of middle-class stability, one of the greatest wealth transfers in history, benefiting the already rich. According to the Pew Research Center, the wealth gap doubled between 1989 and 2016, and inequality in the United States is higher than in any other G7 nation.
McConnell purports to care about Kentucky and the country, but time and again, he has chosen the GOP instead. On numerous occasions, when he could have stopped the worst excesses of the Trump administration, he has chosen to do nothing or to abet the president, as evidenced by his maneuvers to ensure that Trump's impeachment trial quickly ended in acquittal.
As McGrath said at the end of her Herald-Leader interview: "If things are going well for you, Sen. McConnell is your guy. Are you better off than you were six years ago? Are you better off than you were 36 years ago? Because for so many Kentuckians, they are not."
Sadly, she is right. Mitch McConnell has had 36 years to make life better for his fellow Kentuckians, and instead, we are still among the sickest, the hungriest and the least educated. We can do better, and all it will take is a vote for Amy McGrath. We all deserve better, and so does our fragile democracy.
Editorial from Kentucky Herald-Leader. October 15, 2020
October 18, 2020
Voices4America Post Script. Mother of 3, Naval Academy graduate, retired Marine Lt.-Colonel, fighter pilot with 20 yrs of service and 89 combat missions, Amy McGrath will give Kentuckians real representation and end the despotic rule of #MoscowMitch. Kentucky Herald-Leader agrees. Read and share. Do what you can to get McGrath to the Senate. 16 days to go. #Vote #AmyCanDoThis #AmyMcGrathKY #BidenHarris2020