The Education of Mitch McConnell

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Would you like to know more about what makes Mitch McConnell tick? Zach Carter and Jason Cherkis have you covered with a Brobdingnagian profile of the Senate minority leader in the Huffington Post today. Here’s a taste:

After 30 years in Washington spent fighting Democrats on nearly every front, McConnell has embraced his persona as the dark lord of Capitol Hill. John Yarmuth, the Democratic Kentucky congressman who as a young Republican had traveled with McConnell organizing college campuses for [Marlow Cook’s Senate campaign in 1968], says the two are no longer on speaking terms. “He won’t talk to me now,” Yarmuth says of McConnell. “I’ve known him for 45 years.”

Recently, Yarmuth says, he ran into the Senate minority leader at a largely empty airport VIP room. McConnell was sitting alone with a newspaper. “I looked straight at him,” Yarmuth says. “I said, ‘Hi, Mitch.’ There wasn’t a muscle in his face that moved. … He just buried his head in the paper.”

McConnell’s life has become an endless campaign.

Marlow Cook is disappointed in his former staffer. “When you go to Washington, you make your record,” says the retired former senator. “Nobody else makes it for you. And the record that he has made, he has to be comfortable with or he wouldn’t be there. … A man makes the reputation he gets. Mitch has to be satisfied. If I were there and I were in that position, I would not be satisfied.”

As it happens, I suspect that this piece exaggerates McConnell’s influence. Does he deliver plenty of pork for Kentucky? Yes, but that’s what senators do. Did he help turn Kentucky into a Republican stronghold? Yes again, but that was happening all over the South in the 70s and 80s. McConnell was part of that movement, but I’m not sure he played a uniquely transformative role.

Nonetheless, if you want to understand the forces that made McConnell McConnell, this isn’t a bad place to start. Put aside a half hour one of these days and dive in.

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Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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