Mitch McConnell Resigns

On Wednesday, February 28, Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the US Senate, announced his retirement resignation. In his prone years, the politician who turned 82 can justly be proud of his political career. Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell was one of the most experienced politicians and had been the leader of Senate Republicans longer than anyone else had.

After graduating from the University of Louisville with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science degree in 1964, he was awarded a law degree at the University of Kentucky and then participated in various civil rights protests. While attending university, he was fortunate enough to march where Martin Luther King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. His civic-mindedness played a crucial role in young Mitch McConnell’s future.

When he was 42, the young politician ran for the US Senator where he beat no less a figure than Democratic Senator Walter Huddleston—curiously enough, McConnell won with a margin of only 0.4% or 3,437 votes. He has been reelected to his office several times and acted as the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the 1998 and 2000 elections.

As the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee from 1997 to 2001, he was responsible for the results of the ongoing elections. While in office, he was one of 50 people who voted to impeach Bill Clinton in 1999. In November 2006, after Republicans lost their majority in the Senate, he was elected minority leader. After winning the election and taking over the Senate in 2014, he became the majority leader. In 2015, Time Magazine listed him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. By 2018, he had already become the longest-serving Senate Republican leader in US history.

One can argue a lot about his political stance over the last few years. Although he began his political career as a moderate Republican, his stance on all sorts of issues became increasingly hardline over time. He was known as a skilled tactician and strategist. McConnell used to apply “filibustering” as one of his most common tactics which was essentially making a bill stuck in the Senate due to deferred discussion on it. He opposed Obama by denouncing even mere support from Republicans for any presidential initiatives that, however, were basically in line with moderate Republican positions of previous decades. McConnell impeded the health care reform and banking reform under Obama, as the Republican managed to force Democrats into several significant concessions that turned out to yield a positive impact on both his reputation within his party and the future of the senator himself.

Mitch McConnell

During Donald Trump’s presidency, he took the initiative in pushing various projects and appointments aimed at strengthening the Republican Party’s role in the domestic political realm. For example, he succeeded in steamrolling a record number of judges of the federal courts of appeals during Donald Trump’s presidency. However, despite his reputation and experience, even Mitch McConnell failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) during a period of absolute Republican control in 2017.

However, some experts have characterized McConnell’s activities as “a symbol of withering democracy in the United States.” Nevertheless, being a very peculiar person, thanks to his natural ability and talent for manipulation, he managed to get out of this delicate situation by way of an absentia argument brought to his opponents that “democracy will flourish as long as the United States of America exists.” Thus, by linking himself to the state, he made it impossible to criticize him further, effectively declaring that, by criticizing him, his opponents were attacking the state.

McConnell’s relationship with the Joe Biden Administration was highly unusual. On the one hand, their parties stand in radical opposition, yet both politicians characterized each other as “a friend, a colleague, and a man of his word.” Mitch McConnell was the only representative of the United States Republican Party to attend the funeral of Joe Biden’s son Beau in 2015. Mitch McConnell facilitated the Democratic Party in raising the national debt ceiling in 2021. As the leader of a Senate faction, he convinced eleven Republicans to vote in favor of the bill. Was that a betrayal of his party? Or is this how the US achieves the result of the strange permanence of a political course amid the apparent antagonism in the two-party system?

In general, personal relations between Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell are at quite a high level. No self-respecting Republican would attend the funeral of the son of a Democratic Party leader. After all, it is still much more like a personal relationship between two people than a formal attendance at a funeral. It is especially significant that after Joe Biden won the 2020 Presidential Election, Mitch McConnell initially refused to recognize Biden as the winner but was quick to change his mind and, only a day after the count was declared, announced that he would recognize Biden as the new President of the United States.

Besides the above-mentioned aid, from among the ranks of the United States Republican Party, Mitch McConnell became the major proponent of financing Ukraine—even though the Republicans generally take an ultraconservative approach to Zelensky. Was that a personal favor to the President’s Administration? Perhaps that thing ruined him. Repeated meetings with President Zelensky and his Administration have cemented his reputation as a supporter of Joe Biden’s initiatives—even though those meetings were fully justified by his position—which has seriously undermined faith in him as a faction leader in the Senate.

At the end of the day, the US society is so highly polarized right now… Perhaps that is why all the downsides of his political career were thrown back at Mitch McConnell. Now, with the rivalry between Democrats and Republicans stronger than ever, getting rid of everyone with a questionable reputation does make sense. Obviously, despite his experience and because of his age and close relationship with the current President, Mitch McConnell has emerged as one of the major candidates to quit.

Therewith, no one can deny his major contribution to the evolution of United States politics. But for all the above, he was committed to his job and country. Undoubtedly, once he leaves his office, the US will lose one of the most respected political figures in its modern history.

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