The GOP’s Healthcare Failure and the Political Evolution of Mitch McConnell

Mitch McConnell in 2016

This week’s implosion of the GOP health care overhaul in Congress may be the biggest failure of Mitch McConnell’s 30-year career in the Senate. The Senate Republican leader has become known as a master of the legislative process. Maybe a lesser-known fact about McConnell is that he holds deeply philosophical, even romantic views of the Senate as a body of deep deliberation, elevated debate, and cooperation in order to solve the important issues of our time.

But does his record as Senate leader reflect any of those things? Since he came into the top leadership position in 2004, the Senate has become increasingly divided, open deliberation has been quashed, procedures that were once held sacred have been changed in favor of political expediency, and less is getting done.

Where does the botched health care bill leave Mitch McConnell as a politician and a statesman?

Jamie Lucke, editorial writer for the Lexington Herald-Leader, joins Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today to discuss the evolution of McConnell.  

He was a far different political figure then and now,” Lucke says about McConnell when he was first elected to the Senate. “He was thought of as being very progressive, and certainly moderate.”

But, Lucke says his ideology has changed dramatically in order to better position himself politically.

He’s always been willing to adapt his policies, his principals, to his political aims,” she says.

Alec MacGillis, author of “The Cynic: The Political Education of Mitch McConnell” and politics and government reporters for ProPublica, also joins Henderson. 

MacGillis says that McConnell has the mindset of running a permanent campaign, a pure politician.   

Even back when he was more of a moderate Republican,” MacGillis says, “he was still even as a young man kind of desperate to rise in office and win elections.” 

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation. 

Image credit: Library of Congress

About the Author

Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.

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